Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Garlic Quinoa Bake is a creamy, comforting dinner full of cheesy-garlicky flavor!
Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a nice weekend! Any highlights you’d like to share?
I had a super low-key weekend for once – it was so much fun! Saturday morning-ish Ben, Lincoln and I headed downtown to catch the end of the Farmer’s Market then setup shop at a local brewery to watch the Iowa game. Saturday selfieee!
The Hawkeyes were killing it for once so I celebrated with a trip to the brewery’s bloody mary bar. I’ve got two words for you – pickled. asparagus. Oh my gosh they were so good. Tasted just like pickles! We walked out with a victory and tight rings. I can’t help but load my bloodies with ALL THE SALTY FOODS.
Ben and I depuffed on the back deck with waters later that afternoon while Lincoln napped. We hadn’t hung out back there in ages and deemed it our official summer sendoff. The sun was warm but the air was crisp. My trusty patterned sock collection and I are ready for cooler weather ahead.
The fun didn’t stop there, as I had a girl’s lunch with two of my favorite Lindsey’s on Sunday at Malo. These are two of my best friends from way back in high school (we were actually sobbing about just how far back that was!) The Lindsey on the right just had her third baby (which you would never know) and we were glad to get her out and about for a girls lunch. :)
Luckily my experience was 100 times better than last time and we all thoroughly enjoyed our awesome tacos – and chatting our faces off. I got the Chorizo, a favorite from last time, Chipotle Shrimp, and El Pastor. YUMMERS.
While the weekend was perfectly relaxing, and exactly what I needed, it’s back to work today which means I’m on the lookout for easy dinners vs lazy tacos. If you’re in the same boat than you must give Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Garlic Quinoa Bake a go!
If there was ever a time to not judge a recipe by it’s photo it’s right now. Right this very moment! Sure, this quinoa bake might look a little homely, but what it’s hiding is creamy, chicken and garlic flavored quinoa swirled with melted fontina cheese and pops of juciy tomato and green onion.
This. Dish. Is. IT!
In fact, it’s the kind of dish where you’re like, oh yay, a couple of big scoops. Don’t mind if I do! Which turns into, I should probably have another helping just to make sure I don’t need to tweak anything for the final recipe. Then, hmmm, is that light bulb above the sink out? I better check…and snag another nibble while I’m in the kitchen. Before you know it you’ve missed half of Couples Therapy between the back and forth (Juan Pablo + Nikki = a train wreck I can’t tear my eyes away from,) and there’s an entire row missing from the baking dish.
Just like those couples who can’t bear to part, my fork and I could not break up with this ridiculous bake. IGE + Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Garlic Quinoa Bake = 4 eva!
That is to say, this creamy, not overly-cheesy quinoa bake is unreal. Comfort food at it’s finest. It’s like a mix between a gratin, on account of the chewy, golden brown cheese melted on top, and a classic creamy casserole. You will go back for seconds, nay, sixths of this. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’!
Start by rinsing 1-1/2 cups quinoa under cold running water. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago I learned a nifty new trick to make sure the quinoa pearls don’t fall through the fine mesh sieve you’ll need to rinse it in. Simply run the sieve under water first to create a water barrier then add the dry quinoa and rinse per usual. Works like a charm!
Add the quinoa to a saucepan with 2-3/4 cups boiling chicken broth then place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium, and then simmer until the quinoa is tender and nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, 20 minutes. Let the pan sit off the heat for 10 minutes then remove the lid and set aside.
Next mist or spray a large skillet over medium-high heat with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray then add 2 chicken breasts that have been cut into big hunks. Season with salt and pepper then saute until the chicken is golden brown on the outside – it does not need to be cooked all the way through. Remove to a plate then set aside.
In the same skillet saute 3 cloves minced garlic in 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat until golden brown and very fragrant (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – butter + garlic = DROOL!) Sprinkle in 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I used brown rice flour) then whisk to combine and cook for 1 minute.
Next, slowly add splashes of 1 cup chicken broth plus 1 cup milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
Add 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, then turn the heat up slightly to bring the sauce up to a simmer. Turn the heat back down to medium then simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Everybody into the pool!
To the slightly thickened sauce add the cooked quinoa and chicken, 3 chopped roma tomatoes, 3 chopped green onions, and 3oz freshly shredded fontina cheese. The fontina in this quinoa bake is KILLER!
By the way – you might think the mixture is a bit soupy at this point but I promise it will be ok. :)
Stir until well combined then scoop into a nonstick sprayed 8×8 baking dish, sprinkle another 3oz freshly shredded fontina cheese on top, place on top of a baking sheet (in case of any bubble overs,) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly on top.
Let the Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Garlic Quinoa Bake cool for 10 minutes before scooping up and chowing down!
Creamy Cheesy Chicken and Garlic Quinoa Bake
3-3/4 cup chicken broth, divided
1-1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 chicken breasts, cut into hunks
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons gluten-free or all purpose flour (I used brown rice flour)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded then chopped
3 green onions, chopped
6oz freshly shredded fontina cheese, divided
- Bring 2-3/4 cups chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then add rinsed and drained quinoa. Place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium, and then simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat then let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on then remove lid and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick spray then set aside.
- Spray a large skillet over medium-high heat with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray then add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until golden brown – chicken does not need to be cooked all the way through. Remove to a plate then set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium then melt butter in skillet and add garlic. Saute for 1 minute or until golden brown and fragrant. Sprinkle in flour then whisk to combine and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stream in remaining 1 cup chicken broth and milk a splash at a time, whisking to avoid lumps. Add Italian seasoning, season with salt and pepper, and then turn heat up slightly to bring to a simmer. Turn heat back down to medium then simmer until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat then add cooked quinoa, chicken, tomatoes, green onions, and half the cheese and then stir to combine – mixture might look soupy but it’s fine.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish then sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Place on top of a baking sheet in case of bubble overs then bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I made this dish twice in one week for recipe testing and between Ben and me there were zero leftovers two days later. That’s how good it is. Plus it reheats beautifully while staying perfectly creamy. Enjoy!