Tex-Mex Quinoa (or Rice) Casserole
This is a great make-ahead meal. While the recipe below instructs to bake once the mixture has been transferred to the casserole dish, I often prepare to this point and allow to sit at room temperature for up to two hours or cover and refrigerate. When ready to eat, bake until just heated through. When pressed for time or having to serve the meal in shifts, individual portions may be gently heated in the microwave. Leftovers are delicious the next day, whether served cold or reheated.

Yields 6 servings.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (red or white), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (divided use)
  • 8 ounces turkey or pork sausage (casings removed; see notes for options)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper (or color of choice), seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon *each* ground cumin, ground coriander, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup corn (frozen is fine)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican blend or sharp cheddar cheese, divided use (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro or parsley (plus more for garnish, if desired; may substitute a cup or so of chopped fresh spinach)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly grease an 8-inch square or other 1 1/2 quart casserole.
  2. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid (see notes), bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the rinsed and drained quinoa and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside, uncovered at this point.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large, lightly-oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add the sausage and brown, crumbling it as it cooks. Stir in the bell pepper and the spices (cumin, coriander, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt), and sauté until the bell pepper is crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes more.
  4. Add the corn (it will quickly thaw if still frozen) and the drained black beans. Cook, stirring to incorporate, until warm throughout, about 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the pot with the quinoa (or a bowl large enough to hold everything), and add 3/4 cup (3 ounces) of the cheese and the parsley. Stir to thoroughly combine, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. (Optionally, if your skillet is oven-proof, you may bake the quinoa in that.)
  6. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and the quinoa is hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before serving, sprinkle with additional cilantro or parsley, if desired, and enjoy.

Notes

  • I have made this as a meatless recipe and it is still delicious. For a different meat option, ground turkey or ground beef may be used. You could also saute chicken first, remove to a plate, and then proceed with the recipe, adding the chicken prior to baking. A fried egg placed on top of individual servings after baking makes a great topper, too.
  • For one less bowl to wash, I like to cook the quinoa in a pot that is large enough to stir in the veggie and bean mixture later.
  • When buying pre-shredded cheese, the finely shredded options are a great choice, providing consistent–and seemingly more–flavor throughout.

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