Red Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Gruyere Bake
Ellie Krieger’s recipes are some of the best things on the planet. We love her creations, and use them whenever we see them. We found this one thanks to the Washington Post.
There’s a lot going on here, but I promise, it’s well worth the effort. It’s actually not all that much effort, just a lot of prep involved—mostly prepping vegetables and cooking the quinoa ahead of time.
Considering how cheesy and delicious this casserole dish is, it’s remarkably healthy—low-fat milk, only a bit of AP flour, a little Gruyere cheese, and lots of grains and veggies. The flavor comes from a wonderful seasoning combination and a little bit of creativity. She recommends red quinoa (available at Wegman’s) for its deep flavor, but any quinoa (and, I suspect, just about any grain) will do. But try the red quinoa. And when you prepare it, do it in stock, not just water (you’ll thank me later). I used Better-Than-Bouillon seasoned vegetable base to make the quinoa, and I used twice the recommended amount. It really rounds the flavor up. I guarantee you’ll be happy if you make it this way.
This is not just another veggie casserole. It is just bursting with flavor. And if a nice meaty bite is something you crave, include some cremini and shiitake mushrooms to the veggies. They will add a nice earthy and “meaty” note to this wonderful dish.
It’s a keeper!
- Olive oil, for greasing the baking dish
- 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 1/4 cups (4 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked quinoa, preferably red (from about 3/4 cup/4 1/2 ounces uncooked)
- 4 cups roasted mixed vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, squash, assorted mushrooms…), coarsely chopped
Roast the vegetables—whichever ones you choose—according to your favorite recipe, until lightly golden brown and beginning to soften.
Prepare the quinoa per package instructions, adding vegetable cubes or stock base to the water. We use “Better-Than-Bouillon” seasoned vegetable base—the best product available (IMHO) for quick stocks.
Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Brush a 1 1/2- 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.
EASY ON THE BELT LINE EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Just the mention of this tender, aromatic dish sends Italian-food lovers into spasms of joy, and often, jags of wonderful (or dreadful, I’m afraid) childhood memories. If your Grandma made this dish, you either loved it or hated it, but there’s no getting around the fact that most adults can’t get enough of this one. Having grown up in a (mostly) kosher home–some of you know about the time Dad came home, a smoked ham in one hand and a box of gifts from his favorite customers in Chester, PA in the other, and demanded the end to this craziness (his words), and kosher in our house was no more–there was no eggplant Parmesan in our house. Mom occasionally made spaghetti sauce, but it was about as far from authentic Italian red gravy as salt-water taffy.
I learned my sauce-making skills from the skilled chefs at the Epicure Market in South Beach, and refined them to a honed edge at the feet of an employer named Bud Bruno (the finest Italian chef I ever met) in his little kitchen in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. What I learned from Bud was the magic of fresh ingredients, really good olive oil, and little else–an authentic red sauce was at the same time simple and complex, with flavors that were meant to go together. And this one is light as a feather. Not much oil, no battering and frying of the eggplant, and you can eat as much as you want–it won’t weigh you down.
This recipe doesn’t, however rely on one of those long-simmered, tradition-babied, fussed-over red sauces, but rather all the elements of a perfect red sauce, blended together with love but not with much time or effort. Just toss the ingredients together in a bowl and let ’em marry in the bowl for a while. Then go.
Here’s the recipe, and be gentle. Don’t over think this one. It can’t really be much simpler.
EASY ON THE BELT LINE EGGPLANT PARMESAN
1 tablespoon good extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cups fresh, coarsely chopped plum tomatoes (San Marzano, if you can find them) with their juice
2 tablespoons dry red table wine
2 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil spray
2 egg whites
2 1/2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2″-thick slices
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs or 1 cup Panko
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
About three hours before serving, sauté the onions and garlic with the good olive oil until tender and transparent, 8-10 minutes at medium heat. In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes and their juice, basil, parsley, wine, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and onions (from here on I’ll call this the sauce). Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
An hour later, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two or three baking sheets with foil. Spray the foil with olive-oil cooking spray.
In a shallow dish, beat the egg whites and 2 tbsp of water until foamy, and prepare another shallow dish with Panko. Dip eggplant into the egg whites, then into the bread crumbs, pressing crumbs into the eggplant.
Place the eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheets and spray oil lightly over the slices. Bake 30 minutes, turning over after 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
Spoon 4 tbsp of sauce into bottom of 9″ square glass baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil. Place half the eggplant over the sauce; spoon half of remaining sauce over the eggplant; and sprinkle half of mozzarella on top. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella.
Sprinkle Parmesan on top and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until eggplant is piping hot, the sauce is bubbly, and the cheese has to lightly brown.
This dish will serve 4 generously, and leave you with a couple of pieces leftover for lunches the next day.