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Decadent quinoa bake is a clever way to reinvent leftover Thanksgiving vegetables

This quinoa bake works well with any leftover roasted vegetables.  (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
This quinoa bake works well with any leftover roasted vegetables. (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

When this dish emerges from the oven, the first thing you notice is how gloriously cheesy it is with an alluring, golden-brown crust of nutty, funky gruyere.

Scoop into it, and you get to the tender quinoa studded with pieces of autumnal roasted vegetables all moistened and married in a light, creamy cheese sauce.

It’s a French-style gratin, in essence, but with an unconventional, more healthful twist centered on the Peruvian staple “grain.” That word is in quotes because while quinoa cooks up like a grain, it is technically a seed with more protein, fiber and minerals than most grains.

And while the cheesy richness of this bake calls like a siren, that’s because half of the cheese is strategically sprinkled on top where it gets the most attention. Overall, it has a modest amount, as gratins go, and its sauce is more healthfully milk-based instead of relying on cream.

I like to use deep-hued red quinoa here simply because I like how it looks, but the regular light-brown type works all the same. And you can use any mix of roasted vegetables in this dish, too, making it especially handy post-Thanksgiving when you probably have some to use up.

This bake is right at home served alongside roasted poultry or meat, but it is so satisfying it also hits the spot in a larger portion as a meatless main dish.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Bake With Gruyere

Olive oil, for greasing the dish

2½ cups low-fat milk

2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1 teaspoon mustard powder

¾ teaspoon sweet paprika

1¼ cups (4 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups cooked quinoa, preferably red (from about ¾ cup/4½ ounces uncooked)

3 cups roasted mixed vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, squash), coarsely chopped

Position baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush a 1½- to 2-quart shallow baking dish with oil.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour until the flour is dissolved. Add the garlic, mustard and paprika and, whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring a few times, until the mixture has thickened to the thickness of cream, about 2 minutes. Add half of the cheese, the salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth, then remove from the heat. Add the quinoa and vegetables to the pot and stir until combined.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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