Cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole made healthy! This version has protein-packed quinoa instead of instant rice, freshly grated cheddar cheese and a homemade sauce instead of canned soup.
Last year I revamped my mom’s healthy sweet potato casserole recipe. I made it vegan and gluten-free and it was absolutely delish. Everyone at our Friendsgiving loved it! Since that recreation went well, this year I decided to try my hand at making a healthier version of her broccoli rice casserole recipe — with quinoa instead of rice!
Isaac requested that I still use regular cheese so this version isn’t dairy-free, but it’s still vegetarian, gluten-free and healthier than traditional broccoli cheese casserole. Woot woot! If you are vegan or dairy-free, you can always use a dairy-free shredded cheese and vegan butter instead of the real deal.
This casserole is almost identical to my mom’s version. It’s flavorful, cheesy and loaded with big broccoli florets (my favorite part)! I’m pretty sure my family would gobble this up without even realizing that I tweaked the recipe by using protein packed quinoa instead of instant rice, organic cheese and natural soup rather than the canned condensed stuff that’s loaded with extra sodium and fat.
Ingredients in This Healthy Broccoli Casserole
fresh broccoli florets
seasoning – yellow onion, garlic, salt and pepper
cheddar cheese – I recommend using block of cheddar cheese for this recipe to skip the added ingredients and cost that comes with pre-shredded cheese! Shredding your own cheese only takes a few minutes. I used my food processor with the slicing blade and it was super simple.
butter, milk and flour – to make a roux to thicken the sauce.
How to Make Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare the quinoa using water or vegetable broth, according to package directions. While the quinoa cooks, steam the broccoli florets until they’re bright green in color and tender. Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside. When your quinoa is fluffy and all of the liquid is absorbed, remove from the heat and place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Add the broccoli to the quinoa.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk, flour and garlic powder and set aside. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. Whisk the milk mixture into the saucepan and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken while whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese until melted.
Pour the cheese sauce over the quinoa mixture. Toss well to combine. Transfer to your prepped baking dish and top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is melted.
Lightly coat a casserole dish (I used an 8×8 square dish) with non-stick spray or lightly grease.
Prepare quinoa using water or broth, according to package directions. You should end up with about 3 cups of cooked, fluffy quinoa. Place in a large mixing bowl.
While quinoa is cooking, steam broccoli for 5-6 minute or until bright green and crisp tender.
Meanwhile, shred cheese by using a food processor with the shredding attachment or with a handheld grater.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together milk, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour milk mixture into saucepan with the onions and garlic. Allow sauce to simmer, whisking continuously until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese until melted.
Pour cheese sauce over quinoa and broccoli. Toss well to combine.
Transfer to greased baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the casserole is heated through and cheese has melted. Serve warm.