If you had told me a year, or even six months ago, that there would come a time that Shane would request quinoa for dinner, I would never have believed you. Frankly, it's still not something I look forward to all that much. Of the dishes I've made, the buffalo chicken quinoa mac and cheese has been the biggest hit. While we both really like it, we would probably never choose it over traditional mac and cheese made with pasta if that were also an option.
Last month I discovered this baked quinoa chicken parmesan from Elly of Elly Says Opa, however, and all bets went out the window. It's been on our menu nearly once a week since I first made it, and on more than one occasion it's been because Shane specifically said "we should have that quinoa chicken parm again, it's so good!" Words I never expected to hear from my meat and potatoes husband :) In my opinion, the biggest compliment I can give this dish is that I've never eaten it and secretly wished the quinoa was pasta instead. You really won't miss it one bit!
There are several components to this meal but they can all be prepped ahead of time so at the last minute all you have to do is assemble and bake. It definitely falls in the weeknight category here. And unless you're feeding an army, this baked quinoa chicken parmesan will feed you for several days; we find the leftovers reheat very well. I love that it still feels very much like the comfort food I so crave during the winter, but with a healthier, more protein-packed twist!
It's actually been a week or twice since I last made this dish, and I can almost guarantee that as soon as Shane sees the post he's going to email me and ask when we're having it again :)
Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan
adapted just slightly from Elly Says Opa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 2-qt baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the sauce: Add the oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add the vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Continue cooking until the vinegar is almost completely absorbed. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer as you continue with the recipe.
To make the quinoa: Add the quinoa to a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse well under cold water (if you don't, it will have a bitter taste). Transfer the quinoa to a saucepan and add the chicken broth. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the cooked quinoa and the chicken to the sauce and stir to combine. Add half of this mixture to the prepared baking dish then top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Add the remaining half of the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Top with the Parmesan cheese and then the breadcrumbs.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with the parsley before serving.