I am not sure word “juicy” is the most appropriate for a casserole but “moist” sounds even worse. So, I am going with “juicy” to let you know that this chicken quinoa casserole is not dry which is often the case with quinoa bake recipes.
I didn’t think word “creamy” was appropriate either because I barely used any dairy. And still this healthy casserole is so moist from zucchini, full of basil flavour and is protein and veggie packed.
It all started with a whole chicken… A few weeks ago, I went to my chicken farmer and noticed how much prices went up. So, I opted to buy frozen whole chickens instead of butchered pricier parts. Chickens were 20% off and I butchered them myself.
My grandma always made 3 meals out of a whole chicken and that is what I did.
Chicken breasts to go in this spinach quinoa casserole. Legs and wings for grilling. And finally the carcass for soup – I threw everything I had with split peas in a slow cooker. I was even too tired to dice potatoes.
It is SUPER easy to cut a whole chicken yourself. First, trim off the skin, fat and tail. I use kitchen scissors – the best. Then cut out the breasts, legs and wings with a sharp fillet knife. Voila – carcass is for chicken stock and then soup.
So, my idea was to make juicy casserole without much cheese but instead with a sauce made of zucchini, basil, garlic and a bit of oil. I remembered how much moisture zucchini adds to baked goods but last thing I need to eat is sugar in any form.
I just started getting back into exercising more regularly and cutting back on rose and red wine. I have tried it many different ways and if I want not to see any cottage cheese thighs I need to work out. Eating healthy only is not enough at the age of 35.
So, basil in my garden is growing like crazy so here it went into a chicken quinoa casserole. Minus the flowers. I find those taste “soapy”.
Visually this quinoa casserole reminded me of my spinach and artichoke one but completely different taste of course. It was hard to photograph but whatever. Kids loved it!
I hope you are enjoying these last bits of summer left. I am. Despite the recent loss of my mother in law we are making the best of sunny days. I think September and October still will be nice and warm on the West Coast but of course filled with school and sports. However, I think me and Alex decided to take a road trip down the coast to Northern California at the end of September.
We like to break the rules. But honestly I am positive my children will learn and take more with them on a 10 day road trip with their parents than studying according to a “progressive education” curriculum. This is the moment when I remind myself to take a deep breath and remember we live in amazing country and somehow kids who do not get grades and do not write provincial exams will be OK to rule our country in 20-30 years.
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, dry
- 3 cups water
- 11/2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breasts, diced
- 1 lb zucchini, cut in chunks
- 1 cup packed basil
- 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 11 oz spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese, shredded
- Cooking spray (I use Misto)
- In a medium pot, add quinoa, water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray.
- In the meanwhile, in a food processor add zucchini, basil, oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. Process until sauce forms.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, raw chicken, sauce from step above and spinach. Mix well and transfer to a previously prepared baking dish. Slightly level with spatula but do not press. Sprinkle with cheese and bake covered for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, cut into 8 squares and serve hot.
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving = 1/8th of casserole slice:
Total Fat: 9.7 g
Cholesterol: 52.4 mg
Sodium: 611.7 mg
Total Carbs: 27.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 28.5 g
WW Points+: 8