Mexican Chicken Verde Quinoa Casserole

Mexican Cheesy Diabetes-Friendly Casserole
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Total Time 90 min
Prep 30 min, Cook 60 min
Yield 6, 2 cup servings (395 cals)

This cheesy Mexican quinoa casserole is a crowd pleaser! With 10 grams of fiber and 34 grams of protein per serving, it’s a stick to your ribs kind of meal. Better yet, it’s made in only one dish to minimize cleanup.

Besides the fact that this recipe is easy, delicious, and only requires a casserole dish, knife, and cutting board to prepare, one of my favorite things about this dish is just how easy it is to adapt to a variety of tastes and dietary needs. See all of the suggestions below!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups black beans, canned, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained
  • ¾ cup salsa verde
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups frozen peppers and onions
  • 1 cup jack cheese, grated
  • Optional for serving: avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, green onions

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Spray a large casserole dish with oil. In the dish, mix together chicken, quinoa, black beans, yellow squash, mushrooms, chiles, salsa, spices, salt, and pepper.

  3. Pour broth over the top, which helps move the quinoa to the bottom to cook through. Top with frozen peppers and onions.

  4. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove lid and sprinkle cheese over the top. Place back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.
  1. Let sit for 10 minutes so the liquids can finish absorbing, then serve with desired garnishes.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Quinoa, the fiber-rich South American pseudograin, makes the perfect base for this casserole. It bakes up perfectly tender in the oven with just a little bit of chicken broth. Most grocery stores sell quinoa, but if you can’t find it or aren’t sure if you’ll like it swap in brown rice.

If you use brown rice, top it with 2 cups of very hot chicken broth before baking and keep the casserole covered the whole time in the oven, as brown rice takes a bit longer to cook. When the rice is tender, sprinkle the casserole with cheese and place back in the oven another 5 minutes to melt.

For a meatless version, swap the chicken for cubes of tofu, crumbled tempeh, or add more beans. Try a mix of pinto beans and black beans for variety. Alternately, if your carbohydrate needs are lower, feel free to leave out the black beans and use an extra half pound of chicken.

Consider this quinoa casserole recipe a template and play with a variety of different flavor combinations. Turn it into a Mediterranean quinoa casserole by swapping in canned tomatoes for the salsa and chilies, use oregano, basil, and crushed red chili flakes for spices, white beans instead of black, and a sprinkle of feta before serving.

Or try a broccoli cheddar version, leaving out the salsa and chilies, swapping broccoli for squash, cheddar for jack cheese, and use a teaspoon of dried thyme to flavor.

Cooking and Serving Tips

If you’ve ever cooked quinoa before only to discover it had a slightly bitter taste, the problem may have been forgetting to rinse it. Quinoa comes coated with saponin, a naturally occurring chemical that helps it ward off insects. However, we humans don’t like the bitter taste either, so make sure to give your quinoa a good rinse in a fine mesh sieve before cooking.

Don’t worry too much if you pull your casserole out of the oven and notice a little extra liquid bubbling. Most of it will soak up while it sits. You may want to check the casserole towards the end of cooking. If it looks dry, add an extra quarter cup of broth.

This recipe makes a fairly complete meal, but if you’d like something more substantial, try a serving of tortilla chips or a crunchy salad of romaine, radishes, and tomatoes with a lime vinaigrette.

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