Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole with Chicken
When I was planning the recipe for this summery Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole, one word kept coming to mind: abundance.
An abundance of sweet corn and zucchini and peppers! An abundance of healthy whole grains! And, by way of its nature as a casserole, a deliciously gooey abundance of CHEESE.
Too often, the word “casserole” conjures foreboding images of mysterious ingredients disguised as carefully as possible beneath an mask of cheese. Not so with today’s Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole. Fear not—I kept the quintessential cheese layer (I do have a soul). What you’ll find beneath it, however, are ingredients that deserve a celebration, not a disguise.
This quinoa casserole 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 (<—did you see what I did there?), so it plays the starring role in this comforting recipe.
The corn I used in my quinoa casserole hails from Ingersoll Farms, a family operation in Sullivan, Wisconsin. Fortunately, I didn’t have to drive all the way to Sullivan to pick it up. Pick ‘N Save, my local grocery store who I am working with to create this special seasonal recipe, sells it! Since I’m not able to shop at the farmers market every week, I truly appreciate that Pick ‘N Save makes local produce readily available and supports our state farmers too.
To turn this Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole into a filling all-in-one meal, I added diced red bell peppers and zucchini, protein-packed quinoa, and juicy chicken pieces. Everything bakes together in a bubbly, lightened up cream sauce. No canned condensed soups or mystery meat here, my friends. This quinoa casserole is pure, fresh abundance.
I love the way the confetti of colors look together. It’s like eating a comfort food rainbow!
To make the quinoa casserole vegetarian, swap the chicken for white or black beans. You can also omit the chicken entirely and serve it as a crowd-pleasing potluck side.
Tools I used to make this recipe:
Cheesy Corn Chicken 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 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 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 10 minutes. Uncover, lightly fluff with a fork, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish or other 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 olive oil, diced bell pepper, corn, zucchini, garlic, and half of the green onions. Cook until frangrant 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 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 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 spill over). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve.
- This Cheesy Quinoa Casserole can be frozen baked or unbaked. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to baking or reheating.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 5)) — Calories: 464, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 85mg, Sodium: 619mg, Carbohydrates: 42g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 37g
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If you like this Cheesy Quinoa Casserole, you’ll love these other healthy casserole recipes:
I am sharing this recipe in partnership with Pick ‘N Save. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue providing quality content to you!
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