I’m sure that I was a strange child growing up… How did I come to this conclusion? Well obviously it was because I didn’t eat Mac & Cheese (clearly nothing else would make me strange or awkward, nope, nothing else) or at least it was never something I asked my mom to make. I was fortunate enough to have hippies for parents – not in the free love pot smoking sense, but in the we get everything we need from the earth sense. If you ask them they will deny this classification, but they did raise food throughout the winter in a green-house, kept bees and chickens, bought only natural before it was hip and chic, and raised us without a television for a number of years as a child. So yes, my sisters and I were raised all-natural (or as much as they could) before all the other cool kids were doing it and before “organic” was the only way to go.
But back to the no macaroni and cheese. True. I think it comes from an aversion my mom has to anything thicker than a spaghetti noodle. Oh and she also hated excess melted cheese and still does. So until my little sister came along, we had macaroni and meat sauce. Then my little sister didn’t like it so my mom also prepared “mac” and cheese for her (really macaroni with cream and a hint of cheese). Basically I was never raised on it and didn’t develope a taste for it until experimenting one my own as a teenager.
This mac and cheese variation is great in that it can be gluten-free if that’s something you do and you can hide just about whatever veggies you’d like – I choose broccoli, because well, you know – broccoli and cheese are an excellent combination.
Broccoli Quinoa “Mac” & Cheese
- 1 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups shredded marbled jack cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan
- 1/4 cup panko or other bread crumb, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions. You can use the stove top, but I find that a rice cookers works wonders as well – if you’re lazy and don’t want to stand at the stove. 🙂
- Saute broccoli in about 1 T olive oil and add garlic just at the end to toast and bring out the flavor.
- Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl. Fold in quinoa and 1.5 cups of shredded cheese and parmesan. Next fold in the broccoli.
- Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish. Spoon quinoa mixture into the bakng dish and gently pat to level.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and lastly the bread crumbs. For my bread crumbs I actually typcally use crushed croutons or bagged stuffing. It is dry bread and typically seasoned – just an extra punch of flavor. I also don’t need to store bread crumbs that I rarely use for anythng else.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly browned.
Since I was trying this recipe out for a cooking class I’m teaching, you can also sub the broccoli for green chilli for traditional New Mexican flavor and of course more spice!
Quinoa is a great complete protein so you can dig in without worry you’re loading up on too much starch. While I’ve used the white quinoa, you could easily use a mixed variety or plain red to add more fiber and color.