So, this is what I call healthy comfort food.
I know spring is supposed to be all about lighter eats and well, less cheese, but come on? Where is the fun in that? Plus, we all know that the month of April has plenty of showers, or in my snow. Ugh.
Yes, it’s still snowing here in the Rockies and yes, I HATE it.
And yes, this is why today you are seeing cheesy, comfort food. BUT this dish is full of all things healthy, so it really is healthy comfort food. And well, as far as the cheese goes, you don’t have to add as much as I did…
But you should. Just sayin.
So let me just tell you about all the things I love about this little bake here.
>>>It’s probably got to be the easiest thing you can make. You literally dirty just one dish and one spoon/fork or whatever you decide to use. You may have to dirty two if you don’t have any leftover quinoa in the fridge, but lately I have been cooking up big batches of grains (ok, I know that quinoa is not technically a grain) on Sunday so I have easy sides for dinners, or as a way to hearty up salads and such for the week. Wow, that sounds so grown up and all.
Man. My brothers are right, I am so old for my age. I need to act a little more “21-ish” sometimes.
>>>Aside from this being insanely easy to make on any given night of the week, it’s also insanely delicious. Like insanely. I basically took the idea of my dad’s Friday night pasta and swapped the pasta for quinoa and added some sun-dried tomato pesto + roasted artichokes. It’s such a good combo of ingredients and definitely one of my favorite dishes. Like I have been making it once a week for the past month.
>>>The colors!! I just love, love, love the pretty vibrant colors (and flavors) going on here. Can you say color freak? YUP.
>>>Though this is ideal for busy weeknights or a day when you want to prep dinner before work and then cook when you get home, I personally love this on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s just something about those peppers and cheese together. For me, that combo will always scream “it’s the weekend, lets relax!”. Kind of odd, but I am learning I am a pretty odd person. And I am OK with that.
>>>It’s a foolproof recipe with a ten minute prep time and about 40 minutes in the oven…which clearly means that the 40 minutes in the oven gives you 40 minutes for a beer (wine, margarita, whatever you drink), talk time with a friend or significant other, or just time to read a trashy magazine and relax…. OK, fine that only happens in a perfect word, but maybe you can drink the wine while vacuuming? Life.
>>>Finally, you can totally adapt this and make it vegan!! Yes, vegan. Just leave out the cheeses all together or swap in some vegan cheese. I can’t say it will be just as good because I love cheese, but it will still be completely awesome. You could even make it into a quinoa salad and just skip baking this all together, toss everything in a bowl and eat warm or cold. Perfect for on the go lunches!!
Also, how pretty are those tomatoes?? I know tomatoes are not in season just yet (well, the heirlooms are!!), but they looked too pretty not to buy, and wow, they actually tasted amazing!!
Have any of you started your summer gardens yet? If so, I ENVY you. I want so badly to have a garden full of veggies and fruits, but where I live, there are only 30 nights a year where the temps do not go below freezing. I know people have gardens up here, but it’s just a lot harder to manage. I am currently trying to convince my dad that we should build a greenhouse…unfortunately I think little Asher has him heavily distracted with this whole “daddy will you please buy me a horse thing”. The girl has the poor guy pretty well wrapped around her sweet little finger. Poor Dad!
Anyway, the point of this rambling is that I really want you guys to make this one-pan spring Tuscan quinoa bake.
And make it soon!!
SO. You all know what you are all making for dinner one night this week, right?
One-Pan Spring Tuscan Quinoa Bake.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to your liking
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives halved
- 1/3 cup roasted marinated artichokes, drained + roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons pickled pepperoncinis roughly chopped (optional)
- 3 cups cooked quinoa*
- 4-8 ounces ricotta cheese omit for vegan version
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded (omit or use vegan cheese for vegan version)
- 2-3 red bell peppers sliced
- 8-12 pepperonis optional
- 2-4 ounces pecorino cheese freshly grated (omit for vegan version)
- cherry tomatoes + freshly torn basil for topping
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the olive oil (make sure the oil covers the entire bottom of the baking dish, if not add more oil), now add the sun-dried tomato pesto, dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried dill, crushed red pepper, garlic and salt and pepper to a 9 x 13 inch or slightly smaller baking dish (I like using one of those oval dishes that is just a little smaller than a 9x13). To the baking dish add the cooked quinoa, the olives, artichokes and pepperoncinis. Toss well until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Dollop the ricotta over the mixture and gently mix to combine.
Overtop, sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and then scatter the sliced red peppers over top. At this point it will seem like there are too many peppers, but this is fine. They will cook down. Place the pepperonis on top. Sprinkle on top 2-4 ounces of pecorino and another drizzle of olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the peppers have softened. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil, tomatoes and more pecorino or parmesan. Cut and eat!
K. Cool. Let’s do this!