Friday, March 18, 2011

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Casserole

Adapted from An Edible Mosaic.

DSC_1343

Roasted Vegetables
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Your favourite vegetables (this is what I used)
  • 4 medium size onions, halved
  • 1 large green pepper, quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cucumber, quartered
  • 10-12 white mushrooms
Quinoa Mixture
1 c. Red quinoa
1-2 c. Water
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 can (680 mL) Thick tomato-based pasta sauce
Sprinkle of oregano
Sprinkle of allspice

Cream Sauce
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Flour
1.5 c. 1% or 2% Milk
2 Egg yolks, lightly beaten
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper

2-3 sprigs Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
1 pkg Shredded cheese (I used PC Tre Formaggi Shredded Italian Cheese)

Preheat broiler.

Brush both sides of the vegetables with olive oil.  Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.

DSC_1333

Bake for 12- 15 min, flip the vegetables 1/2 way through.

Note: You can also preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the vegetables for 40 min, flipping them 1/2 way through.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a bowl and let them cool.  Remove the vegetables from the liquid, cut them into bite size pieces and set aside.  Reserve the liquids.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Transfer the reserved liquid to a measuring cup.  If the volume is less than 2 cups of water, top the liquids up to 2 cups. (If there are more than 2 cups of liquid, only use 2 cups in this recipe and discard the rest.)

Wash the quinoa thoroughly to remove the bitter taste.  In a medium sauce pan, combine the minced garlic, quinoa and the reserved liquid; bring the liquid to a simmer.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 min, uncovered.  Then, remove the sauce pan from heat, cover and let sit for 5 more minutes.  Fluff with fork.

Add the pasta sauce, fresh basil, oregano and allspice to the quinoa, stir to mix.

For the cream sauce, warm the milk in the microwave.  (In my microwave, I warm each 3/4 cup of cold milk for 1 min.)

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add flour and quickly whisk to combine.

Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cook until smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Transfer about 1/4 cup of the cream sauce to the egg yolks, added a little bit at a time to prevent cooking the egg.  Whisk until smooth.

Slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the cream sauce, whisk until well combined.  Turn the heat on low, cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

DSC_1338

Assemble the casserole in a 13"x9" glass dish, in this order, starting at the bottom: quinoa mixture, cheese, roasted vegetables, quinoa mixture, cream sauce and top with more cheese.

Bake for about 35-40 min, until the cheese on the top is golden brown.



My comments:

The original recipe was a vegetarian moussaka but no one in this household likes eggplants.  However, there are a lot of potentials for this recipe to be tailored to everyone's tastebuds.  The first time I made it, I simply replaced the eggplants with onions and bell peppers.  It was pretty good but based on my family's suggestions and my own creativity, I've tried a couple versions of this casserole and I think I've got a winner!!

I love the flavours all these different roasted vegetable bring to this dish.  You can literally use any vegetables you want - zucchinis, eggplants, cauliflower, etc.  I particularly love the roasted mushrooms.  I ate about 1/3 of them while putting the casserole together.  My son recently decided he doesn't like mushrooms, so next time, I may have to omit the roasted mushrooms from the casserole and just eat them myself.  :)

Quinoa is a very nutritious grain, high in protein content and a great source of dietary fibre and iron; it is also gluten-free.  I've also tried substituting 1/2 of the quinoa with red lentils {1/2 c. quinoa + 1/2 c. red lentils + 1.5 c. liquids}.  This variation did not alter the flavour but it did change the texture of the dish.  Personally, I love the way the quinoa "pop" in my mouth while I chew; it's super fun to eat!!  But if you don't like quinoa or if you find the texture a bit weird, then just use lentils {1 c. lentils + 1 c. liquids}.

I have incorporated tofu in this casserole before.  Tofu is another way of boosting the nutritional value in a dish without changing its flavour.  Tofu comes in different varieties: firm, medium, soft or silken.  For a casserole like this, I simply use whatever I have on hand.  If you are using soft or silken tofu, you can add it to the quinoa mixture at the same time you stir in the tomato sauce.  If you have firm or medium tofu, cut them up into small cubes and mix it in with the roasted vegetables.

Finally...we come to the best part of the casserole: the cream sauce.  I love this cream sauce because it is uber creamy but it's made with low-fat milk!!  No cream, no guilt!!  So I doubled this part of the recipe and we love how the cream sauce stands out from the tomato sauce.  Mmm...  So. Freaking. Good!!!

This is a very healthy dish.  The ingredients are rich in nutrients and low in fat.  Only a small amount of cheese is needed to complement the variety of flavours from the vegetables and quinoa.  What I love most about this recipe is that it is versatile.  You can make this with your favourite vegetables or herbs, throw in a few pieces of chicken breasts or experiment with a couple of different cheeses - the possibilities are endless!

No comments: