Baked pasta dishes are easy to make, usually yield leftovers, and please most everyone. The problem is after a while they get a little dull and if you are trying to watch your figure our simply be more healthful having a baked pasta dish once or twice a week is not a good thing!

I have really wanted to try quinoa out, but I needed to find something that would be very tasty on the first go. Since my husband and I love chicken Parmesan, I knew the only new thing would be the quinoa and it was my best shot at getting my family to like it. I’ll be honest, the quinoa has no real taste and is definitely filling like a pasta. There is a textural difference, but if you take normal sized bites, rather than trying to identify it, you get over it very fast. It was a win in our household and hopefully it will be in yours as well.

This recipe can also be gluten free if you omit the use of breadcrumbs or find gluten-free breadcrumbs. Another win!

Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 15oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Basil and oregano to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cooked
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a 2 qt. baking dish with cooking spray.

Making the sauce

Heat a large skillet over  medium heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the onion and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan, cook until the vinegar is almost fully absorbed.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil and simmer while the rest of the meal is prepared.

Making the quinoa

Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water for about 2 minutes.

Place the quinoa and water (or broth) in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. If you are using only water, you may want to add a little salt. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cooking the chicken

Dice or cut the chicken into thin strips. Pan fry them in a little bit of oil and season as you would like. You can also use breadcrumbs and prepare them that way as well. However you would like the chicken prepared.

Assembly

If you skillet is big enough add the quinoa and chicken into the sauce and mix thoroughly. Otherwise, add everything into a large bowl.

Place half of the mixture in the baking dish and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining quinoa mixture and then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Add the Parmesan or Romano cheese on top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, if using.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 10 additional minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.

Garnish with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Source: Elly Says Opa!

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