Quinoa Spinach Bake

Here’s a misconception that I’ve been harboring: I thought that quinoa was a grain.  It turns out, quinoa is a seed!  Who knew?  Here’s one thing I’m sure I’m not mistaken about, though… quinoa is healthy and delicious.  An ancient American “pseudo-cereal,” it packs all the nutritional benefits of whole grains – lots and lots of fiber – but also is high in protein.  If you’re trying to work more whole grains into your diet and you’re sick of brown rice, give quinoa a try.  It cooks up light and fluffy, with a pleasant nutty taste that matches well with many other flavors.

This dish, quinoa spinach bake, is a great way to get more quinoa on your table.  It was billed as a side dish, but I think that it also makes a fantastic vegetarian entree, given the many nutritional benefits that quinoa and spinach offer.  It’s easy to throw together after work – just cook up the quinoa, mix in the other ingredients, plop them in a baking dish, and poof!  Instant (well, after 30 minutes) wholesomeness!

Quinoa Spinach Bake

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 yellow onion, medium-diced
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 package spinach
2 eggs
1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
cracked pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat an 8-by-8 glass or ceramic baking dish with an olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
  • Cook the quinoa according to the package directions (1 cup of dried quinoa should yield about 2 cups of cooked quinoa), flavoring with a bit of salt.
  • While the quinoa cooks, warm a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick saute pan.  Cook the onion, seasoning with salt, until translucent.  Add the red pepper flakes and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant.  Add the spinach and wilt, tossing to coat with the onions.  Transfer onions and spinach to a bowl.  Add eggs, cottage cheese, cracked pepper and herbs.
  • When the quinoa finishes cooking, add it to the spinach mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.  Transfer quinoa-spinach mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, until top is golden.  Slice and serve with a green salad!

Yield: Serves 4 as a vegetarian entree, 8 as a side dish.

Source: Adapted from WholeLiving.com.

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