Well Mom, you rubbed off on me, even if I still like to have things my way. Just ask this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole.
Inspired by the Healthy Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole that was a fixture on our childhood dinner menus, today’s elevated vegetarian version keeps the spirit of the casseroles I remember my mom cooking.
Like hers, it’s creamy, cheesy, and comforting.
From there, I’ve taken a number of liberties to lighten it up and give it extra flair, like roasting the broccoli and using real-deal, fully-flavored cheese.
In line with the classic Midwestern casserole spirit, you’ll find a crunchy casserole “lid” (mandatory!) and a rich, velvety sauce.
For the grain, instead of rice which is more classic in casseroles, I used whole grain, protein-rich quinoa.
It’s a delicious pairing with broccoli—just ask this Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing and this One Pan Broccoli Quinoa Skillet with Parmesan and White Beans.
Most unlike the casseroles you might have grown up with, this casserole leans heavily on the broccoli.
But not just any broccoli—roasted broccoli.
Roasting the broccoli before adding it to the casserole makes it lightly crispy and caramelized. Even vegetable skeptics will struggle to resist—especially once you’ve factored in the cheese.
Thanks to the addition of white beans 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.
Of course if you or your family prefer, you can easily add meat and make this a chicken broccoli quinoa casserole (see notes below).
Looking for an extra scrumptious side dish? This casserole works well here too. The extra touches like roasted broccoli and herbs make it memorable, even as a part of a larger spread.
Above all, this broccoli casserole is delicious.
It’s made with real, simple ingredients. You won’t find any canned soups or processed cheese product. Just true broccoli cheddar goodness.
How to Cook Creamy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
While all-American at its roots, this recipe takes a slight Italian quinoa casserole spin. Crowd-pleasing additions like mozzarella and Italian herbs enhance its flavor and heighten its appeal.
- Quinoa. High protein with a lightly nutty flavor, quinoa is a perfect choice for this vegetarian casserole. You could also swap cooked rice or another grain of your choice.
- Broccoli. Roasting the broccoli is my secret flavor weapon! It adds depth to the casserole and gives it irresistible flavor. Broccoli is also packed with Vitamin-C and fiber (see more broccoli nutrition information here).
- Carrots. I couldn’t resist sneaking in another tasty, nutritious veggie.
- Flour. Helps thicken the sauce. To make the casserole gluten free, you can use your favorite 1:1 gluten free flour.
- Greek Yogurt. More protein! It makes the casserole extra creamy, without the need for heavy cream.
- Cheese. The attention-grabbing factor of this casserole. I used mozzarella and cheddar for the ultimate crowd-pleasing flavor. For the most luscious, melted cheese texture, don’t buy the pre-shredded stuff. I promise it’s worth the extra step to grate it yourself!
- Cannellini Beans. Beans give the dish a hearty boost. Besides making it more filling, they also add cozy, creamy texture to the casserole. White kidney or great Northern beans work here as well.
- Cook the quinoa. Fluff and set aside.
- Roast the broccoli at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. (Need a super short cut? Try my Roasted Frozen Broccoli).
- Sauté the onion, carrots, and garlic.
- Scatter flour over the top, and stir. Whisk in the broth and milk. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the spices.
- Stir in the quinoa, beans, and roasted broccoli.
- Stir in the yogurt and cheeses.
- Pile the mixture into a baking dish, and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Broil for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the cheese is browned (don’t let it burn!). Let it sit for a few minutes, then top with fresh herbs and ENJOY!
Variation – Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
For an extra protein boost (and to satisfy any diehard meat-lovers at your table), try adding cooked pieces of chicken breasts or thighs to the casserole. You can use the chicken in addition to the white beans or use it as a replacement.
Either diced, sautéed chicken or shredded chicken are excellent options. For the ultimate time savings, you can use meat shredded from a store bought rotisserie chicken, or follow one of these easy chicken cooking methods:
Fans of the chicken addition: be sure to check out this Mexican Chicken Casserole too.
What to Serve with Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
While this casserole can stand on its own as a hearty vegetarian dinner, here are a few ideas of what you could serve with it:
- Salad. For a light, healthy side, pair this casserole with Anytime Arugula Salad.
- Salmon. Simple Grilled Salmon in Foil would be tasty served alongside this casserole.
- Grilled Veggies. Both Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Cauliflower Steaks would be delicious.
Make Ahead, Storage, and Reheating Tips
- To Make Ahead. Chop the broccoli, onion, and carrots 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 350 degrees F until warmed through. It can also be reheated 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.
More Healthy Casserole Recipes
- Sausage and Rice Casserole
- Stuffed Pepper Casserole
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole with Chicken
- Mozzarella Meatball Casserole
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Dutch Oven. A kitchen tool that I find myself reaching for almost daily.
- 9×13-inch Casserole Dish. My healthy casserole recipes MVP!
- Cheese Grater. Either a box grater or microplane grater would work well.
Could broccoli quinoa casserole be the new classic? I’d love to hear what you think!
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it came out for you. Your comments and 5-star ratings mean the world to me and are ultra helpful for other readers too!
Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth divided
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided, plus additional as needed
- 1 pound chopped broccoli florets about 4 broccoli crowns (a little over or under is fine)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 3 medium carrots cut into 1/4 to 1/3-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic about 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour to make gluten free, use a gluten free all purpose flour blend
- 1 cup non-fat milk
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella fontina, or provolone cheese — divided
- 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- Chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, dill, or thyme — for serving
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously coat 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Coat a 9x13-inch or similar casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside. (The dish you see in these photos is 8 x 10 and is very full.)
- Place 2 cups broth and the quinoa in a large saucepan, then bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- While the quinoa cooks, roast the broccoli: place the broccoli in a very large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat the florets. If any seem dry, drizzle in a bit more oil as needed. Divide the broccoli between the two baking sheets, spreading it into an even layer and ensuring that the broccoli does not overlap.
- Roast the broccoli on the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to lightly toss the broccoli and spread it back into an even layer to promote even browning. Return the pans to the oven, switching their positions on the upper and lower racks. Continue baking until the broccoli is browned and the tips are becoming crisp, about 5 to 10 additional minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F.
- In a Dutch oven or similar large, deep sauté pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots. Sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon salt,and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir and let cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle the flour over the top. Let cook until the flour is golden and smells lightly nutty, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until no white bits remain.
- Slowly pour in the remaining 1 cup broth, then the milk, adding a few splashes of liquid at a time. Whisk constantly and pause as needed to break up any lumps. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat and let gently bubble until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the oregano and cayenne. Remove from the heat.
- Slowly stir in the quinoa, then fold in the white beans and roasted broccoli. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- Slowly stir in the Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly in the pan. Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella.
- Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and the casserole is hot, about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, then continue cooking until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the cheese does not burn. Let rest 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve.
- 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 350 degrees F until warmed through. It can also be reheated 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.
- TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Swap a 1:1 GF baking flour like this one for the all-purpose flour.
- TO MAKE VEGAN: Dairy is important in this recipe for the best texture. For this reason, I do not have a vegan swap I recommend.
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