Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan

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Gooey, warm cheese, melted in between a flavorful mixture of onions, chicken, garlic, diced tomatoes, quinoa, and an array of spices.  After making this recipe for the first time, I was hooked.  So hooked, that I made it again 3 nights later….then 5 nights after that!  I knew I had made a hit around the household when I opened the refrigerator door to an empty pan :)  

One thing about this meal that I love, is that it can all be prepped ahead of time.  This is now a staple item in our refrigerator that we make (close to) every weekend….then snack on throughout the week.  This meal tastes like a dish that should be loaded with calories because of its rich flavor.  In fact, it’s hard to believe there are no noodles in this recipe…quinoa is a perfect substitute (and MUCH healthier!)  Needless to say, this is a easy favorite…. and the healthy combination makes it even more enjoyable.

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Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan
adapted just slightly from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 2-qt baking dish with real butter.

To make the sauce: Add the oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer as you continue with the recipe.

To make the quinoa: Add the quinoa to a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse well under cold water (if you don’t, it will have a bitter taste). Transfer the quinoa to a saucepan and add the chicken broth. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the cooked quinoa and the chicken to the sauce and stir to combine. Add half of this mixture to the prepared baking dish then top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Add the remaining half of the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Top with the Parmesan cheese and then the breadcrumbs (you can leave the breadcrumbs off too for a Primal Diet version).

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with the parsley before serving. Quinoa 10 Quinoa 11 Quinoa 3  Quinoa 6 Quinoa 7 Quinoa 8

 

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