Casseroles were a staple in our household growing up. More or less a, "we have so many leftovers...what should we do?" A clean out the fridge type of occasion! And they never failed to fill and impress. Casseroles are such a classic, American tradition. Throw in your meats and starches, veggies, spices and cheese - add a little broth and cream of so&so to taste and voila! A weeknight masterpiece to feed the hungry masses. But it's those cream of (fill in the blank) soups that get me a little uneasy. They plop out of the can in a can shaped fashion. It's just...a pretty firm no from me. Don't get me wrong, I have used them in a pinch! But it hurts my heart a bit to think of what lies in their gelatinous forms.
I stumbled across this recipe for a can-less casserole and I couldn't be more pleased. It contains all of those casserole musts - the meat, the cheese, the rich and creamy sauce! But without the preservative laden soups! I was in heaven. Quinoa-y, chicken-y, cheesy broccoli goodness. Homey food at it's finest. This is a simple weeknight meal that comes together so quickly! And it will please the adults and children alike. So take your momma's casserole's and make them your own - but keep that classic flavor intact :)
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Cheesy Chicken and broccoli quinoa bake
2 cups organic chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used whole)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup flour
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed if required
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled thick cut bacon
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon preferred seasoning blend (like Emeril’s Essence, Tony's Creole or homemade)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (though any preferred type will do)
3 heaping cups fresh broccoli florets
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish. Bring chicken broth to a low boil in a saucepan. Whilst broth is beginning to boil, whisk the milk with poultry seasoning and flour and add this mixture to the boiling liquid; whisking continuously until a smooth creamy sauce forms.
Pour sauce from above, one cup of water, uncooked quinoa and 1/4 cup of bacon into prepared baking dish and stir to combine. Slice the raw chicken breasts into thin strips and lay them over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with your seasoning blend and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.
Remove the casserole from the oven and ensure chicken is cooked through and the desired casserole consistency is achieved; if not, cook a few additional minutes. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened to your liking, stir in the broccoli and top with the cheese and reserved bacon. Bake for 5 additional minutes, just long enough to melt the cheese. Enjoy!