Chicken, broccoli and quinoa are tossed in a lusciously creamy sauce and baked to cheesy perfection in this faux “mac n’ cheese” bake. It’s a protein-packed, all-inclusive meal the whole family will LOVE.THIS is how we do weeknight meals. *sings in head, this is how we dooo ittt*
We all love casseroles, right?
This one is loaded with protein-rich quinoa, shredded chicken, broccoli, sharp cheddar cheese, a crunchy whole wheat topping and wait for it… Greek yogurt! Yep, we’re taking creamy to a new level of deliciousness while keeping things light and healthy.
“This is how we dooo ittt”
You basically just know when a recipe starts off with the word “CHEESY” that it’s worth a little looksy, right? A little looksy may quickly turn into googly eyed gawking once you catch a glimpse of that bubbly, golden brown crust and think, what on earth is hidden underneath that cheesy blanket of goodness…?
Tonight’s dinner! That’s what. And maybe tomorrow’s breakfast. And heck, maybe tonight’s late night snack too?? I’ll hop on that train with you.
But for reals, we did eat this for breakfast the next morning, “egg scramble” style, with uh, scrambled eggs (obv) and sliced avocado. It was one of those super satisfying, savory breakfast bowls that I unfortunately can’t just make on a whim every morning, so that alone made it THAT much more enjoyable. As I mentioned, the idea with this meal was a faux “mac n’ cheese” casserole, obviously subbing the macaroni for quinoa and lightening up the lusciously creamy sauce using a rare form of black magic. But you could definitely still get away with calling this a “mac n’ cheese” dish in front of your kids or spouse if they’re not into quinoa. Or if you REALLY want to play by the rules (whomp, whomp), you could use whole wheat pasta in place of the quinoa. I’ll still love you to the moon and back.
And speaking of weeknight meals and feeding families and all that fun, non-stressful stuff, you could make this recipe even easier by using frozen broccoli in place of fresh. I certainly don’t discriminate against any form of veggies. Gimme all da greens!I mean, seriously. The flavor. The texture. It’s like eating a hug. A big bear hug with a whopping 37 grams of protein per serving(!!). Your bellies, hearts and taste buds will be bursting with joy.
And if there is one thing I know for sure (besides how to make colossal messes in the kitchen), it’s that you can NEVER go wrong with healthy comfort food. And friends, it doesn’t get much better than this. *mic dropIf you make this recipe, be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations!
Have a cheesy day!
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups lower sodium chicken broth
- 3-4 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) broccoli, stems removed and chopped into small florets
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil - divided
- 2 tsp butter (I prefer grass-fed)
- 1 tsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fat free (or 1%) milk
- ¾ cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese + ⅓ cup for topping
- 3 tbsp seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add chicken breasts and cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to slightly cool. Use two forks to shred chicken or cut into small cubes. Place in a large bowl.
- In the meantime, place quinoa and chicken broth in a 1½ quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all broth is absorbed (~10-15 minutes). Transfer to bowl to be combined with chicken.
- If using fresh broccoli, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cook for 6-8 minutes, until softened. Transfer to bowl and add remaining 2 tsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of butter to skillet. Add shallot, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper, saute for 1-2 minutes, until aromatic and slightly softened. Add flour and whisk into mixture continuously for about 30 seconds. Pour in milk and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for ~3-4 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in ½ cup cheddar cheese and allow to melt. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt.
- Pour mixture into bowl to be combined with chicken, broccoli and quinoa. Mix all ingredients to combine. Pour contents into casserole dish, spreading evenly with a spatula. Top with remaining ⅓ cup of shredded cheese and sprinkle breadcrumbs over top.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. I prefer to turn the oven up to broil for the final 1-2 minutes to help crisp up the breadcrumbs. Serve!
You can also use rotisserie chicken for even more ease and convenience!
Join the Conversation:
Do you ever toss your leftovers in a skillet the next morning and make them into breakfast scrambles?
Which traditional “comfort food” would you most like to see lightened up?
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out some of my other favorite meals featuring quinoa: