Sausage, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

by Susan on August 26, 2016

While I still prefer to fire up the grill or toss a salad this time of year, I can’t deny the fact that my kids start school next week and I need to get back into our normal routine. As much as I hate to be a cliche, casseroles are a great option for weeknight family meals. particularly like preparing casseroles that contain vegetables, and

This new Cooking Light recipe is a great option, as it contains the nutritional powerhouse quinoa, along with sausage and broccoli to make it a complete meal. The cheesy factor here really ties it all together, so even if you’re family doesn’t love broccoli or quinoa they’ll still likely really enjoy this one. The crispy topping is an added bonus. I used gluten-free panko breadcrumbs that I got at Whole Foods; if you’re gluten-free another option is to use almond meal.

I also used the appropriate flour to make this casserole gluten-free.

Sausage, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole
adapted from Cooking Light

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
4 (4-oz.) links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup gluten-free flour of choice (I used GF all-purpose flour)
2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups organic light cream
2 cups organic chicken broth
6 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets
1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup gluten-free panko or almond meal
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water and quinoa to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12 to 14 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add 1 tbs. oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and sausage; cook 7 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Remove sausage mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add flour, butter, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add milk and stock; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium; stir in broccoli, 2 teaspoons thyme, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 3/8 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Stir in quinoa and sausage mixture.

Grease a large baking dish. Fill dish with quinoa mixture. Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil and panko or almond meal in a bowl; add remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and cheddar.

Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over casseroles. Bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until browned. Finish under the broiler if you prefer a crispier topping.

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Gluten-Free Cajun Chicken Pasta

by Susan on August 25, 2016

Back in my twenties, I didn’t think so much about what I ate.  Even then, however, I knew I was really indulging when I ate basically any pasta on a restaurant menu. My personal favorite was the cajun jambalaya pasta at The Cheesecake Factory, the perfect pairing of cream and spice.

I’m not calling my reworked version jambalaya, as I omitted the seafood because neither of my kids are fans. I stuck to chicken which I coated in homemade cajun seasoning, and tried to tweak the sauce to make it as clean and dairy-free as possible. You could even try to totally omit the dairy here, but I do love how the Parmesan adds flavor and body to the sauce. If you’re dairy-free, I would use a vegan cheese substitute (perhaps a cheddar one, as I’ve never seen dairy-free Parmesan).

I would suggest penne or other hollow pasta, as it’s the perfect shape for the sauce. While I topped the dish with chopped tomatoes, I think next time I will add some diced red pepper to the actual sauce as well to up the nutritional value. Everyone really liked this one, and the chicken had just the right amount of zip without being too spicy.

Gluten-Free Cajun Chicken Pasta
adapted from Damn Delicious

3/4 lb. chicken breast
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. cajun seasoning (see below)
12 oz. brown ricepenne pasta
2 tbs. Earth Balance dairy-free spread or coconut oil
4 minced garlic cloves
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (can use organic cream if not dairy-free)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 diced tomatoes
minced green onions, to garnish

cajun seasoning:
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients well.

for pasta:

Combine chicken, 1 tbs. olive oil and cajun seasoning in a large bowl. Toss to coat.

Heat remaining olive oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Set aside and for a couple of minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente and drain well.

Melt Earth Balance or coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for about 1-2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in cream or milk and lemon zest. Cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine.

Top pasta with tomatoes and green onion (and additional grated Parmesan, if desired).

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