Cheesy Pesto Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

5 from 28 votes
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This healthy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole is creamy, cheesy, and comforting. Gluten free and plenty filling, enjoy this vegetarian casserole for a meatless dinner or make-ahead lunch.Broccoli quinoa casserole in a red baking dish

While most of us are plenty familiar with cheesy broccoli casseroles, this vegetarian version packs a whole-grain, protein-rich punch.

For the grain, instead of rice which is more classic in casseroles, this one leans on nutrient-rich quinoa.

It’s a delicious pairing with broccoli—just ask these Harissa and Chickpea Broccoli Bowls or this Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Quinoa Bake

Sautéing the broccoli before adding it to the casserole makes it lightly crispy and caramelized. Even veggie skeptics will struggle to resist—especially once you factor in the two installments of cheese.

Thanks to the addition of protein-rich Greek yogurt and the fact that quinoa is a complete protein, this vegetarian casserole is plenty filling. We eat it most often as a meatless main, both at dinner and reheated for lunch the next day.Bowl of cheesy broccoli casserole with a lemon wedge on the side

How to Make Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This recipe keeps the spirit of a classic comforting casserole while delivering good-for-you nutrients. It’s made with real, simple ingredients that pack a major flavor punch.

And while all-American at its roots, this recipe takes a slight Italian spin with the addition of Parmesan and pesto. Trust me, this duo only heightens its appeal.

The IngredientsRecipe ingredients in separate bowls on a white board with labels

  • Broccoli: A great source of vitamins A, C, and folate, broccoli adds crisp-tender texture and extra fiber to this casserole. You need 1 lb. of florets, which should be cut relatively small. (You can also toss in some of the stems, which are a great source of prebiotics.)
  • Onion: I suggest using either shallots, yellow, or sweet onion here. The flavor of white onion is a bit too sharp.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is high in protein, gluten free, and extremely versatile. The taste is super mild, so it takes well to any flavor profile you throw its way.
  • Greek Yogurt: A secret ingredient to slip in extra protein while adding creaminess to the casserole. I suggest using plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt, such as Fage brand. 
  • Cheese: A mix of nutty grated Parmesan plus shredded mozzarella (or white cheddar) create the ultimate cheesy duo. Reserve half of the shredded cheese to sprinkle overtop to give the casserole a golden, cheesy crust. 
  • Pesto: Using prepared pesto (such as DeLallo brand) adds an Italian twist to this casserole. You can also use homemade, if you prefer!
  • Milk: Use any milk you like or have on hand. I suggest either whole-milk or unsweetened cashew milk, which is very mild in flavor. 
  • Pine Nuts: In lieu of a crunchy breadcrumb topping, pine nuts complement the pesto and add quintessential crunch.

The Directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Step 1: Sauté Broccoli and Onions

Heat oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add broccoli and onions; cook 5 to 6 minutes, until broccoli is barely crisp-tender and onions are softened. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt, and transfer mixture to a bowl.Broccoli florets and onion being sautéed in a skillet

Step 2: Cook Quinoa

Add quinoa, water, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt to skillet and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, stir quinoa, and place lid back on to steam grains for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and stir in milk, yogurt, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella (reserve remaining for topping), Parmesan, pesto, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili flakes; stir well to combine. Stir in broccoli and onion mixture.Quina, broccoli, cheese, and milk being mixed together in a skillet

Step 3: Bake Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Grease an 11×7-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer quinoa mixture to baking dish, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella overtop. Scatter pine nuts over cheese, and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil.

Bake mixture, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. For a more golden topping, broil under HIGH for 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil, if desired.Quinoa and broccoli mixture in a red baking dish topped with pine nuts before baking

Recipe Variation: Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

For extra protein, add 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken to the quinoa mixture right before baking. Alternatively, you can use chopped chicken thighs or broiled chicken breasts.

Make-Ahead, Storage, and Reheating Tips

This vegetarian casserole freezes and reheats exceptionally well!

  • To Make Ahead. Chop the broccoli and onion up to 1 day in advance. Store them in separate airtight storage containers in the refrigerator.
  • To Store. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm the casserole in a baking dish in the oven at 350º F until hot. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a 350ºF oven.

Broccoli quinoa casserole after being baked with a spoon digging out a portion

More Healthy Casserole Recipes:

Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Mexican Casserole with Walnut Chorizo

Wild Rice and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

If you give this recipe a try, be sure to snap a picture and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!

5 from 28 votes

Cheesy Pesto Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This healthy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole is creamy, cheesy, and comforting. Gluten free and plenty filling, enjoy this vegetarian casserole for a meatless dinner or make-ahead lunch.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 5

Equipment

  • 1 Large skillet
  • 1 11x7-inch Baking Dish

Ingredients  

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 2 cups water or lower-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I suggest whole milk or unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella or white cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (I use DeLallo brand)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh basil leaves
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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
    Heat oil in a large skillet with a fitted lid (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add broccoli and onions; cook 5 to 6 minutes, until broccoli is barely crisp-tender and onions are soft. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt, and transfer mixture to a bowl.
    Add quinoa, water, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt to skillet and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, stir quinoa, and place lid back on to steam grains for 5 minutes.
  • Remove lid and stir in milk, yogurt, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella or white cheddar (reserve remaining for topping), Parmesan, pesto, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili flakes; stir well to combine. Stir in broccoli and onion mixture.
  • Grease an 11x7-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer quinoa mixture to baking dish, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or white cheddar) overtop. Scatter pine nuts over cheese, and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil.
    Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. For a more golden topping, broil under HIGH for 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil, if desired.

Video

Notes

  • To Make Ahead. Chop the broccoli and onion up to 1 day in advance. Store them in separate airtight storage containers in the refrigerator.
  • To Store. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm the casserole in a baking dish in the oven at 350º F until hot. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a 350ºF oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.33cups | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 710mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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34 Comments

  1. Dana says:

    Would love to make this but don’t always have quinoa on hand – would it be easy enough to sub rice for the recipe?

  2. Patty says:

    What can I sub for the yogurt, we don’t eat dairy?

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi there – I would just use a plain non-dairy yogurt (coconut, cashew, oat, etc.)

  3. Danielle says:

    Is there a way to prep the casserole and freeze it with cooking the whole thing and then freezing it? I’d love to make this a one of my freezer meals for postpartum!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Danielle – Yes, definitely! I would prepare the casserole completely according to instructions, let it cool, and then freeze.

    2. Jamie Vespa says:

      Yes! Prep the whole casserole according to instructions, let it cool until it is close to room temperature, and then freeze.

  4. Casey says:

    5 stars
    I never would’ve have thought to use quinoa as a vehicle for cheese, but it’s genius and works so well!! I used white cheddar. Love love this easy vegetarian dinner. Satisfies the carnivore husband too.

  5. Courtney says:

    I’m looking forward to making this soon. I wonder if it would be good with chickpeas added?

  6. Tanya says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing! I’ve made a version with cashew milk and another with goat milk – both were perfectly delicious! Very happy to have another recipe for elevating broccoli!

  7. Carole L. says:

    5 stars
    Once again, I am blown away with the flavor and texture combinations you come up with!! This was delicious and my husband never once asked where the meat was in our lunch! Hahaha! Perfect cozy meal for this arctic chill day in Minnesota. Thank you SO much!!!

  8. Noga Rosenberg says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! We’ve made it twice now and our toddler gobbles it up – broccoli and all! My husband is the cook and he cooks the broccoli a little longer than in the recipe so overall cook time is longer for the recipe but overall we love it!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Noga – I’m so glad the recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a review!

  9. Patti Bright says:

    5 stars
    Don’t let the long list of ingredients talk you out of making this truly amazing recipe! It is worth it!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Patti – I’m so thrilled it was a hit! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review!

  10. Misty Fontenot says:

    5 stars
    This feels like the yummiest, creamiest, comfort dish. I love the pine nuts on top for a little crunch and texture. I like this so much better than just a traditional broccoli cheese casserole – the pesto makes the flavor next level. And it’s nice to make this and have it for leftovers for several days (I cook for two people) – which are remarkably delicious and makes a fun lunch the next day.