Thursday, July 4, 2013

Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I interrupt the regularly scheduled vacation posts to bring you a really yummy, healthy dinner. I've been trying to find recipes with quinoa lately since it's the latest health food fad. I always figured it would be dry and crunchy, but turns out if you cook it right, it is a great protein-rich base for recipes that normally call for something starchy like rice or pasta. Even though the recipe does have some sour cream and cheese in it, when you consider the proportions, you'll realize that it looks a lot more indulgent than it actually is!

Who knew eating healthy could look this yummy?! 

Let's just get started with the recipe. You'll need:

1 cup dry quinoa
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth for quinoa
2 breasts of chicken -shredded (I used the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1/2-3/4 cup cheese - pepper jack and sharp cheddar
2 large poblano peppers - roasted (method below)
1-2 jalapenos - diced
1 T butter
1/4 c sour cream
1 12 oz can tomatillos
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth for enchilada sauce
2 T flour
1/2 can black beans
1 tsp cumin
cilantro - to taste

So here's how I make my quinoa - it turns out fluffy and delicious every time:
Take 1 cup dry quinoa and rinse thoroughly in a strainer with cold water. Then transfer into a bowl of ice water and let soak for 15 minutes. This is apparently an essential step so the quinoa isn't too crunchy and tough. Boil 3/4 c chicken broth and 3/4 cup water together in a medium pot. Stir in quinoa, return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until liquid has soaked into quinoa. It should be soft and fluffy to the touch and will have absorbed the liquid when it's done.

I used the time the quinoa was cooking to prep some of the other ingredients.

To roast the poblanos:
Simply put them on a cookie sheet covered with foil, sprayed them lightly with cooking spray, and pop them onto the top shelf of the oven under the broiler for about 6 minutes on each side (I turned the peppers about 3 times each). The skin should appear blackened and bubbly. Once they are done under the broiler, transfer them to a bowl with a lid and let them sit covered for 15 minutes or longer. This "sweating" process will help the skin peel off more easily.

To make the enchilada sauce:
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, then sautee the jalapenos and garlic for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir until combined with the peppers and garlic. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and whisk well to combine. Add the 1/4 cup sour cream and continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken a little.  Add the 1 tsp cumin and a little chopped cilantro to your liking. Take the sauce and put it in a blender with your canned tomatillos - now you have your enchilada sauce!

The quinoa should be done by now and the peppers should be roasted. Peel and chop the peppers, then combine in a bowl the quinoa, chopped roasted poblanos, 1/2 can black beans, the shredded chicken, and about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Add about 1/2-3/4 cup enchilada sauce - just use your judgement on how much you think you'll need to sufficiently moisten the casserole. You don't want it to be runny, but you do want it to be wet. Transfer to a casserole dish, then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly, then broil for a couple minutes to crisp and brown the cheese on top.

I served the casserole with a dollop of fresh simple guacamole (mashed avocado, lime juice, and sea salt) and fresh salsa (I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe - found HERE).


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