We’re currently in the process of (hopefully!) buying a flat and well, it’s very stressful. I’ve been trying to find recipes that are purse and time friendly. I usually make a big bake so that we can have it for lunch the next day. I’ve been told D’s colleagues get jealous when he brings this in!
I originally tried this with a white sauce but I much prefer the tomato based version. It seems less heavy. Quinoa is definitely having it’s moment in the spotlight. It doesn’t contain any gluten and is high in protein. By many it has been labeled a super food. Whether it is or not, I really like it. I quite often use it in salads and now as a replacement to pasta in bakes. I’m working on some other recipes to swap quinoa in as a healthier option – I’ll keep you posted on how those go!
I recently got the idea for this recipe when we had a couple of days of grey, rainy weather and it really felt like autumn was on the way – I wanted something warming. I wanted to feel happy and full without feeling guilty for eating a plate full of potatoes or pasta! These are my normal comfort foods you see.
– 1 cup quinoa (I use tricolore because I like the variety, but you can use any of the quinoa in your supermarket). Uncooked and rinsed.
– 350g chicken, sliced
– 2 cups broccoli
– 2 handfuls of spinach
– Tin of chopped tomatoes
– Stock – 1 chicken and 1 vegetable stock cube
– 2 tbsp mascarpone
– 2 tbsp flour, sifted
– 130g pancetta
– 1 tsp oregano
– Grated cheese – this is for the top so as much or as little as you like!
Preheat your oven to 175 C. Put one cup of water on to boil in the pan, once bubbling add your stock cubes. Stir until dissolved. Turn the heat to a low/medium heat. Add the tin of tomatoes and mascarpone and stir until blended. Follow with your oregano and the flour. I add the flour a little at a time and use a whisk to stir – you don’t want lumps in your sauce.
Once all your flour is mixed in leave the pan on a low heat and get the pancetta on. Fry it until browned. When it’s done remove both pans from the heat. In a large mixing bowl combine the sauce, quinoa and pancetta. It will seem very liquid, but the quinoa will absorb most of it whilst cooking. Place your mixture into an oven proof dish – I use a 1.3L one which fits these quantities perfectly. Pop it in the over for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, you need to take the bake out of the oven and give it a good stir, especially at the sides of the dish to stop the quinoa from sticking. Place the sliced chicken breast on top of the mixture and bake for another 15 minutes.
Now its time to stir it again – it should look brown and a bit crispy on the top and be much thicker. At this point I also stir in half a cup of water; the quinoa absorbs so much liquid! Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, get some water boiling in a pan. Throw in your broccoli for about 1 minute – until it goes bright green. Then drain it under cold water. After the bake has had its 10 minutes, stir in the broccoli and spinach and grate over a little mature cheddar. I like to use a mature cheddar so I don’t need to use very much – I’m trying to keep it a little healthy! You could skip it completely or cover it in cheese – totally up to you and your cheese habits. Then pop the bake back in for the final 5 minutes.
And enjoy! I like to have mine with some salad on the side. This is not the prettiest dish to photograph but it really does taste great, even the next day so it’s a perfect lunchbox filler. Let me know if you’ve made other bakes using quinoa instead of pasta.