Thursday, January 1, 2015

Quinoa Gratin with Mexican Flavors

This Mexican inspired casserole has everyone’s favorite ingredients, including potatoes and cheese. A good amount of quinoa, vegetables and beans adds fiber and nutrition. Quinoa is perfect for casseroles and it works well with Latin flavors too.
Creamy black beans, sweet corn and zesty salsa combine to give each bite Mexican flavor. If you’re trying to sneak whole grain goodness into your family members’ diets, this dish will do the trick.  It'll make a quinoa lover out of just about anyone.

Quinoa Gratin with Mexican Flavors 

Makes one 15×10 inch casserole

Some Notes:
Sometimes, I like to top this casserole with a bit of crumbled bacon. 
Toasting the quinoa enhances the nutty flavor, but it’s an optional step.
Your favorite brand of salsa will work perfectly here. I like Green Mountain Gringo brand. You can also replace the salsa with the same amount of canned mild green chilies.


1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock or water
3 cups of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 cups of frozen corn or you can use fresh off the cob
6 scallions, diced
1 lime
2-1/2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
1  15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
8 tablespoons of salsa. Pick your favorite brand. Canned mild green chilies will also work (see notes).
3 tablespoons of chili seasoning
2 teaspoons of dried oregano. Mexican oregano is recommended, but plain oregano works fine too.
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking. I use olive oil.
Serving suggestions: crumbled cooked bacon, diced scallions, diced avocado, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, lime wedges


Preheat the oven to 350 F
Lightly oil the bottom of a  15×10 inch baking pan
To cook the quinoa: Rinse one cup of quinoa. In a small pot, over medium heat, toast the rinsed quinoa in a little olive oil until it’s fragrant and starts to make a crackling sound, about 3-5 minutes. Carefully add two cups of vegetable stock or water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is done. Turn off the heat, let stand for 5 minutes in the covered pot. Put the all of the cooked quinoa in a large bowl and set aside.
Put the frozen hash brown potatoes in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave them for 2-3 minutes, until they’re starting to soften. Place them in the bowl with the quinoa.
Meanwhile, heat some oil  in a nonstick skillet and saute the diced red bell pepper until tender crisp. Once the bell peppers have softened, put them in a bowl along with the cooked quinoa and potatoes.  Add the rinsed and drained black beans, salsa, diced scallions, chili seasoning, dried oregano and corn. Add a couple of good squeezes of lime juice. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and salt to taste.  Put the mixture into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
If you’re going to finish this casserole with crumbled cooked bacon then fry a few pieces of diced bacon in a skillet as the casserole bakes. When the casserole is done, sprinkle it over the top. I like to serve sour cream, hot sauce, diced scallions, lime wedges and diced avocado on the side.  

Bon Appetit!

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