When I was planning the recipe for this summery cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole with chicken, one word kept coming to mind: abundance.
An abundance of sweet corn (like my other favorite Corn Casserole), zucchini, and peppers!
An abundance of healthy whole grains!
And, by way of its nature as a casserole, a deliciously gooey abundance of CHEESE.
If you’re looking for an easy, healthy, family-friendly casserole, this corn quinoa casserole is it!
5 Star Review
“This is delicious! My favorite quinoa recipe to date! I’m excited about all the potential variations of this recipe.”— Kate —
If the word “casserole” concerns you, don’t be worried. Too often, the word “casserole” conjures foreboding images of mysterious ingredients disguised as carefully as possible beneath a mask of cheese.
Not so with today’s cheesy corn quinoa casserole (or this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole).
Fear not—you won’t find any packets of processed sauce mixes or cans of congealed “cream of” canned soup. (You won’t find them in my favorite Healthy Green Bean Casserole, either.)
All you’ll find is lean white meat chicken and plenty of veggies…beneath the quintessential casserole ingredient: a generous layer of cheese. (I DO have a soul, after all.)
How to Make Corn Quinoa Casserole
This simple casserole recipe can be easily adapted to suit any veggies you have lurking in your refrigerator or garden.
Here in Wisconsin, we are currently up to our ears in summer sweet corn (pun TOTALLY intended), so it plays the starring role in this comforting corn casserole recipe with quinoa and chicken. (Fresh summer corn is also a real treat in this Grilled Corn Salad.)
- Corn. The star of the show. Choose fresh summer corn off the cob, if possible. You can also swap for frozen corn that has been thawed and drained.
- Quinoa. A healthy, plant-based protein option that’s delicious, filling, and healthy. (Try it in this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole too.)
For tips on how to achieve perfect, fluffy quinoa, check out How to Cook Quinoa.
- Chicken. My addition to add extra bulk and lean protein to the recipe.
- Vegetables. To keep this cheesy corn quinoa casserole healthy, I packed it with plenty of added veggies, like diced red bell peppers and summer zucchini.
- Chicken Broth + Milk. Our liquids that add moisture and creaminess.
- Flour + Butter. Make a simple roux to thicken the casserole and give it body.
- Green Onions + Garlic. For a little zippy pizazz.
- Herbs. A combo of basil and oregano gives the dish a little extra dash of summertime flavor.
- Cook the quinoa until tender. Set aside.
- In a skillet, cook the chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, until no longer pink on the outside. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce the heat and saute the diced bell pepper, corn, zucchini, garlic, and half of the green onions until softened. Add to the plate with the chicken.
- Make a roux with the butter and flour and cook until golden.
- Slowly whisk in the remaining chicken broth and the milk until smooth.
- Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and stir until thickened slightly.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the cooked quinoa, chicken, veggies, and half of the cheese.
- Pour into a greased baking dish and top with the remaining cheese and green onions.
- Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, then serve. ENJOY!
- To Store. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Warm this corn quinoa casserole in a 350-degree F oven until heated through. You may also microwave individual portions until steaming.
- To Freeze. This casserole can be frozen fully baked or unbaked. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to baking or reheating.
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- Cutting Board. To chop all those veggies with ease.
- Casserole Dish. This one is my forever favorite.
One bite of this easy corn and quinoa casserole (or Stuffed Pepper Casserole), and you’ll feel like you’re eating a comfort food rainbow!
Corn Quinoa Casserole
- 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth divided
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 2 teaspoons, divided
- 2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 pound—omit or substitute 1 can of rinsed white or black beans to make the dish vegetarian)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 2 cups white corn or yellow corn, cut from the cob (about 2 large ears)
- 2 small zucchini diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium red bell pepper (or orange) seeded and diced
- 3 green onions sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour to make gluten free, use a gluten free all-purpose flour blend
- 1 cup non-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated reduced fat cheese divided (I used half mozzarella, half extra sharp cheddar), about 6 ounces
- Bring 2 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan, then add the quinoa. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the liquid has been mostly absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes, depending upon the brand of quinoa you purchase. Keeping the pan covered, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Uncover, lightly fluff with a fork, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish or 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray, then set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook the chicken just until no longer pink on the outside (it does not need to be completely cooked through), about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce the skillet heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, diced bell pepper, corn, zucchini, garlic, and half of the green onions. Cook until fragrant and the corn is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove to the plate with the chicken.
- Melt the butter in the skillet, then sprinkle the flour over the top and briskly whisk to coat the flour with butter and break it up. Let cook until the flour is golden and smells lightly nutty, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Slowly pour in the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth, then the milk, adding a few splashes of liquid at a time. Whisk constantly and pause as needed to break up any lumps. Add the oregano and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 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.
- Remove the skillet from heat, then stir in the cooked quinoa, chicken, reserved veggies, and half of the cheese. The mixture will be liquidy. Carefully pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese and green onions on top.
- Place the mixture on top of a rimmed baking sheet (this will catch any spillover). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.
- TO STORE: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Warm this corn quinoa casserole in a 350-degree F oven until heated through. You may also microwave individual portions until steaming.
- TO FREEZE: This casserole can be frozen fully baked or unbaked. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to baking or reheating.
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