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a simple real food recipe :: italian spinach quinoa bake

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I first saw the idea for a “quinoa bake” on Pintrest about a year ago. Over the last year I have tried dozens of different recipes for them, and in the last couple months finally came up with a version that is “me” 🙂 I love FLAVOR. And lots of it! And I love getting flavor out of seemingly bland loads of veggies!

This is a great way to have a meatless meal to stretch your weekly chicken, or just to have something different!

Quinoa is full of protein and fiber and really makes for a great meal. And because it’s allergen free, pretty much anyone can stomach it! If you are on a grain break I would skip out on the quinoa until you heal up your tummy though 😉 I soak my quinoa in equal parts water to quinoa and a TB of yogurt or whey to every cup of quinoa before cooking it. This makes it easier on the tummy to digest. Soak for 12-24 hours, strain and rinse, then cook in equal parts quinoa to water or stock. TIP! I batch up a whole box of quinoa at a time and freeze flat in 3 cup portions – makes this dish even faster!

You will never know there wasn’t a “meat” in here – it even fills up my *very* meat loving husband. And after finally figuring out how to get flavor in this recipe, his exact words at dinner were “man this is really great!” I’ll take it!

You’ll need:

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups cooked quinoa (About 1 ½ cups uncooked. The linked bag is the one I pick up at Costco – this is a good price too!)
  • 2 TB friendly fat to cook in (butter, coconut oil, tallow, lard)
  • 1 small or ½ large onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (omit if you don’t want the kick!)
  • 2 TB Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼  tsp pepper
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, or about 1 cup frozen spinach thawed
  • 1 small or ½ large tomato seeded, juices scooped out, and chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten (if you are egg free go for an egg replacer to bind)
  • 1 ½ cups cheese, shredded  (if dairy free try goat cheese)
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour (if you are nut free try making bread crumbs by drying out some bread and blending them up!)
  • Coconut oil or butter to grease the pan (cooking spray is full of toxins – skip it!)
  • Shredded cheese to top if desired

  1. Sauté onion and green pepper in the friendly fat for a few minutes with a pinch of salt to bring out the juices and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and seasonings and cook a few more minutes, then dump into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. While your veggies are cooking you can cook your quinoa and blanch your spinach if you are using fresh spinach. (To blanch, just bring a pot of water to boil, add the spinach for about 20 seconds til bright green, then transfer the spinach to very cold water. Squeeze the spinach out and chop up. If you are using frozen, thawed spinach just squeeze the water out and chop up a bit.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa and blanched spinach to the mixing bowl with the sautéed veggies.
  5. Add the tomato, eggs, and cheese to the mixing bowl and mix everything together.
  6. Grease a baking dish and press the almond flour into the bottom of the pan for the crust
  7. Pour the quinoa mixture into the crust and spread out.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, sprinkle cheese on the top, then bake another 20 or so minutes, until the edges are nice and brown and the cheese on the top is melted and slightly browned. If you choose not to do the cheese on top just bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes total.

Kitchen Tips:

  1. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY THE NUMBER OF INGREDIENTS AND STEPS. This takes me about 25 minutes to prep all together including clean-up. This is VERY easily put together the night before, into the baking dish and the fridge, and then all you have to do is put it in the oven when you get home from work. Or you could prep it over the weekend and stick it in the freezer until you want to bake it later in the week. If you batch up a bunch of quinoa and freeze in portions it goes even faster!
  2. You could do more like a whole cup of the almond flour or bread crumbs at the bottom of the pan if you want a thicker crust.
  3. You could do a bread crumb and butter topping instead of the cheese if you wish!
  4. You could double this recipe and do up in a 9×13 pan if you have a larger family or want more leftovers. It will keep in the fridge for about a week but I’m thinking once it’s cooked it will probably not freeze well. This recipe will feed our family of four for about 2 or 3 nights or 1 night a few lunches.
  5. Cook up your quinoa in your homemade chicken stock for extra nutrition!

YOUR TURN!

What is your favorite “Pintrest find”?! Let me know if you try the recipe!

This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School, Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, and Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday, and Too Many Jars In My Kitchen’s Fill Those Jars Friday!

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  • Heather
    February 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Tried this today with sautéed kale instead of spinach and it turned out great. Thanks!

  • Emily
    October 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I totally will be trying this. You know you hooked me on the crockpot chicken, right?

    • Renee
      October 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Fabulous 🙂 let me know what you think!