Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chicken and Quinoa Hot Dish (Casserole)

I don't know if Minnesotans are famous for hot dishes, but I do know that they are kind of famous for calling casseroles (how pretty much everyone else in America calls them) "hot dishes", which I like because it's more homey and descriptive. But then, I grew up in Minnesota. :-)

Hot dishes are usually full of cheese and creamy goodness (with maybe a can of creamed soup thrown in for good measure), so I thought I'd try to lighten things up a little. True to form, this recipe is a little of this and a little of that, since I needed to use up a few things after we'd been gone for a couple of days and I hadn't gotten to the grocery store before I had to think about dinner. That being said, it's easy enough to switch things up a little. Don't like arugula (which can be too bitter for some)? Substitute kale or spinach. Don't have quinoa? You could substitute pasta, millet, farro or some other grain. I think this would be great with leftover wild rice as well! Just be sure to adjust liquids accordingly (or cook the grain before adding it to the mix).

Also, don't worry about drying the greens before adding them to the bowl. The extra moisture will get absorbed by the quinoa as it cooks. Letting the hot dish "rest" for 10 minutes is also important to help set everything.

But really, this hot dish couldn't be easier to make; just throw everything in a large bowl, stir to combine, then put in the dish and bake.

This is definitely comfort-food worthy, but a little healthier than the typical hot dish. Enjoy!

Chicken and Quinoa Hot Dish

2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cooked and cut into bite-sized cubes (or cooked, leftover chicken), about 2 cups
1 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Pampered Chef Parmesan Garlic seasoning
15 oz ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
about 10 fresh basil leaves
1 bunch arugula, cleaned and chopped (thick stems removed) (you can substitute spinach or kale or chard - any combination of greens, really)
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1/2 c grated Parmesan, plus more for top

Stir everything together and put in an 8x8 in baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, stirring everything about halfway through. Remove the foil, grate additional Parm on top, increase the oven temp to 400 and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: If you want to cut the baking time in half, pre-cook the quinoa, but I like the slight crunch of the quinoa when it's baked like this.

Makes 4-5 servings

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