Until last night I was a quinoa virgin.
In all of my gluten-free living, I cannot believe I'd never tasted the stuff! Countless people told me about, but did I listen? No. I suppose I settled with the "why eat quinoa when I can simply eat rice?" mentality. Was I ever mistaken! I'm a big texture girl, and I love the texture of quinoa. It reminds me of tapioca pudding, and my inner 92-year old is mildly obsessed with tapioca, so one can only imagine my new-found infatuation with quinoa.
I have this caprese bake recipe to thank for it. What was supposed to be a last hurrah meal involving summer herbs ended up as me adapting my own fall version of the caprese bake. Because guess what? Basil is absolutely nowhere to be found come September. I at least figured I could find some outrageously priced imported basil being that I live in a virtually summer-all-year sort of climate, but apparently things like that don't exist. Enter spinach and oregano!
But, really. This spinach and tomato quinoa bake could possibly change your world because it's super healthy and delicious.
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella, divided
1/2-1 cup pearl tomatoes, cut into fourths
1 large bunch fresh spinach, washed and cut
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sauté the entire bunch of spinach and the oregano in the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Set aside.
3. Heat the tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa. Fold in half of the mozzarella and half of the tomatoes, then add in the 3/4 of cooked spinach and oregano. Once thoroughly mixed, spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire quinoa mixture into the dish. Top with fresh shredded mozzarella and the remaining tomatoes and spinach.
4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
5. Remove from the oven, allow to sit five minutes and enjoy!