Cheezy Quinoa Casserole

The casserole, pre-cheeze

Whenever I describe vegan cooking or baking to others, it sounds disgusting. All the things that are actually delicious to me just sound gross. The wost offender, of course, is nutritional yeast. Even it’s nickname, “nooch,” isn’t much better.  What’s also amusing to me is that people seem to think vegan cooking/baking is “healthier” somehow. It won’t save you any calories, but it certainly is a healthier way to live, long term.  This recipe is definitely not health food.  You have been warned.

That being said, I’m going to just forge ahead with this recipe in hopes that you will look past all the weird things it’s asking you to do, make, and eat, and just enjoy the fact that it’s pure, delicious, and will make your tummy happy.

Cheezy Quinoa Casserole

You will need:

  • 1cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups parboiled broccoli
  • 1 cup sauteed mushrooms (or canned, if you’re lazy…no shame)
  • 1 package extra firm organic tofu
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 1 batch of the cheeze sauce from VeganYumYum (holla! Great recipe if you ever want mac and cheeze. Which I do. Frequently.)

Preheat your oven to 350F and spray a medium-sized casserole dish (or souffle dish). If you don’t have spray, don’t sweat it–just lightly grease with olive oil. Or, if you don’t want to do that, it’s not the end of the world. Just have a dish ready.

Bust out the rice cooker and put your quinoa in there with 1 1/4c of water. Alternately, put 2 cups of water and your quinoa on the stove and boil, covered, until the little white circle forms around your quinoa. If the white rings don’t form throughout the quinoa and you run out of water, just add a bit more. In my experience, it’s much harder to overcook quinoa than rice. Also–about quinoa–I really like Alter Eco red quinoa more than the white kind. It’s really full-flavored and delicious…and ethical! Also, because of the color, it’s easier to see when it’s done because those white rings pop right out.

Next, prep your cheeze sauce. VeganYumYum does a pretty good job of walking you through all the steps. Obviously, just make the sauce and omit the mac part.  I’d like to mention that my daughter is allergic to sesame seeds, so I replaced the tahini with almond butter and it worked very well. I’m sure I’m missing some of that great nutty tahini taste, but it’s better than a trip to the hospital and the epi-pen, right?!

Next, prep your tofu. Now, I have discovered the secret to having fun while cooking tofu and/or tempeh. The secret, friends, is an iron skillet (side note: my friend Cinnamon just wrote a cookbook praising the iron skillet–hooray Cinnamon!). It’s darn fun to cook on one of these things because you don’t worry about scraping it, burning it, or denting it otherwise. It’s just a straight-up, honest to goodness cooking tool. Use it. Love it. Here’s how I cook my tofu, and it’s based on a beloved favorite restaurant from college, The Grit in Athens, GA. First, drain the tofu and shake off the excess water. Slice the tofu into either cubes or triangles (I am a fan of the triangles because it’s so cute to hear my toddler identify them). Then, take 2tbsp of olive oil and heat it on med-high in your skillet. Once it’s hot, place your tofu in the pan. Turn the tofu periodically using a metal spatula and let it get a lovely yellow color on every surface. You may need to add a little bit (maybe another tbsp) more oil during this process. If you’d like, you can also add the optional splash (or squirt/spray, as the case may be) of Bragg’s in there at this time. Take the tofu out of the pan once golden, wipe out your skillet (carefully, iron skillets stay really hot for a while) with a paper towel. At this point, you can roll your tofu in some nutritional yeast to cover it. Heat your skillet again, place 2tbsp of oil in there, and repeat what you just did. Your tofu should be nice and brown and not nearly as wet as when you started. My mouth is watering just writing about this.

Next, parboil your broccoli. It will only take a couple of minutes, and you basically just want to make the broccoli bright green and barely soft. I put about 1/2″ of water in the bottom of a pot with a lid, boil it, put the broccoli in, wait a couple of minutes, and then it’s done.  Also at this point, you can sautee your mushrooms until they exude a juice, remove from heat. Or, open the can of mushrooms and drain.

Now comes the fun part: LAYERING. Take your beautiful red white-ringed quinoa and layer it on the bottom of the casserole dish. Then, take your broccoli and mushrooms–layer those next. Then, the tofu layer. Then, take your cheezy sauce and carefully pour it over the top of the whole concoction. It’ll seep down in between all the delicious bites of tofu and broccoli and will touch the top of the quinoa. YUM. O.

Bake at 350F for 25 min until it’s bubbley and the cheezy sauce it slightly browner than it was before. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve.

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  1. Kristy Blake says:

    Okay. Quinoa. Everyone loves it, but the couple times I tried to cook it, it came out bitter. And I did wash it. What’s the trick? I want to use it, but I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Is there some that is sold already washed? Help!

  2. Lacey says:

    So interesting! I have to admit–I tried the quinoa that is whiteish and was not a fan. It just didn’t have as much flavor. BUT I don’t remember it being bitter…hmm..

    You can try cooking it down in vegetable broth instead of water, that might reduce some of the bitterness, or you can also try cooking it longer. It should be soft when you bite it but have kind of a “pop” when you bite each of the little pieces. Not necessarily a crunch, but a pop…anyone else have ideas?

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