Easy Quinoa Cheddar Bake with Chicken and Broccoli

Chicken-Broccoli-Quinoa-Cheddar-Casserole

I think nearly every American is well acquainted with this dish: the Baked Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole.

Featuring plenty of white rice and plenty of cheddar cheese.

And topped with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Broccoli Soup.

It’s a classic.

Easy, convenient, rich, hot-from-the-oven comfort food.

So lately I started thinking: the chicken broccoli and rice casserole is the perfect target for a 21st century upgrade.

This dish could be so much healthier and taste so much better, with a few tweaks.

Cheddar-Quinoa-Bake-with-Chicken-and-Broccoli-(Easy-and-Healthy!)

This modern, updated version is still really quick and convenient.

Quinoa-Cheddar-Bake-with-Chicken-and-Broccoli-(Easy-and-Healthy!)

It’s just a lot healthier, with fresh, whole ingredients like cottage cheese (you can’t taste it), quinoa, and broccoli.

Chicken-Broccoli-Cheddar-Quinoa-Casserole

Despite all the healthy ingredients, I crave this recipe often because it just tastes so rich and flavorful.

Chicken-Broccoli-Quinoa-Cheddar-Casserole

Start to finish, this is an easy dish that takes only 30 minutes to throw together.

So I really love this casserole for hectic weeknights.

Cheddar-Quinoa-Bake-with-Chicken-and-Broccoli-(Easy-and-Healthy!)

End result: a tasty plate of rich, cheesy comfort food.

Chicken-Broccoli-Cheddar-Quinoa-Casserole

This easy casserole is full of healthy ingredients.

But all the melted, gooey cheddar makes it a dish that could please a crowd.

 

Here’s the recipe for Easy Quinoa Cheddar Bake with Chicken and Broccoli:

Easy Quinoa Cheddar Bake with Chicken and Broccoli
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy Chicken Dish
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 pound frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 1½ cups low-fat cottage cheese, strained
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, and season with salt. Add the quinoa and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when the spiral germ becomes visible around the grains.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cubed chicken and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the outsides are nicely browned, about 7 minutes. Add the thawed chopped broccoli and cook until the broccoli is lightly softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked quinoa, cottage cheese, and ⅔ cups grated cheddar. Stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. (If skillet is not oven-safe, transfer ingredients to a large casserole dish at this point.)
  6. Spread the remaining ⅓ cup grated cheddar over the top of the casserole.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, and one teaspoon of olive oil. Stir until breadcrumbs are well coated with oil. Spoon breadcrumb mixture all over the top of the casserole.
  8. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and cheese begins bubbling, about 10 minutes. Serve.
 

 

Other Recipes You May Enjoy:

30-Minute Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake

Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cheesy Broccoli Skillet Potatoes

 

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34 Comments

  1. March 28, 2013 / 3:15 pm

    This is beautifully flavored and even healthy too! Gorgeous dish. I just love anything with cheddar and broccoli, so this, for me …is a definite keeper recipe. Delicious!

  2. March 28, 2013 / 4:00 pm

    What a delicious and healthy dinner recipe 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  3. March 28, 2013 / 6:53 pm

    What a delicious makeover! I can’t wait to try it with the Quinoa!

  4. March 28, 2013 / 7:31 pm

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for a meat replacement in this? I love quinoa and cheese, and broccoli, so I will definitely try this one!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      March 28, 2013 / 8:06 pm

      Since quinoa (and cottage cheese!) are such good sources of protein, I wouldn’t bother with a replacement for the chicken. I’d increase the quinoa to about 1 1/2 cups and maybe add some cauliflower along with the broccoli 🙂

  5. March 28, 2013 / 10:58 pm

    I love your upgrades to a comfort classic. And broccoli is one of my favorite veggies, the perfect addition!

  6. March 29, 2013 / 11:51 am

    Love your well achieved adaption of this classic!
    Healthy,fresh and contemporary- one could not wish for more 🙂

  7. March 29, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    Wow .. this looks really good .. nice to have you back. Hope that everything is okay with you and your “boys”. By the way I can now get Panko over here .. every store suddenly has it, love it – this will I give a go after Easter.

    I wish you and the boys … a wonderful and spring-full Easter. We got new snow again today. Wired winter this year.

  8. March 30, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    I grew up eating lots and lots of Broccoli and rice casseroles with and without chicken. It was an old standby and usually made with cream of chicken soup. I love your version and especially the use of quinoa! I really need to try this. Thanks!

  9. March 31, 2013 / 1:52 am

    I am SO sold on this dish. I eat quinoa on the regular, but I love the sounds of this comforting meal. Total bonus that it’s so quick to whip up – perfect for a weeknight!

  10. April 2, 2013 / 6:46 am

    This looks delicious! I love an upgraded comfort food like this. Plus I love cheese and broccoli together.

  11. Carolyn
    September 13, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    This was so delicious! I was skeptical about the cottage cheese, since I normally don’t like it. But I followed the recipe exactly, and my husband and I both enjoyed. Thanks so much!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 13, 2013 / 2:55 pm

      Exactly – you don’t even taste the cottage cheese, although it adds so much creaminess! I love to hear how recipes work out for folks, so thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  12. Ally B
    September 17, 2013 / 10:31 pm

    Just made this but added some lemon pepper (addiction) and cayenne for some kick. This is delicious!!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 18, 2013 / 9:23 am

      Sounds like some very tasty additions! 🙂

  13. Laurie Harrington
    November 19, 2013 / 8:54 pm

    Thanks for this combination. I added some Dijon mustard to low-fat sour cream and mayonnaise because I was out of cottage cheese. My family still loved it.

  14. December 18, 2013 / 5:14 pm

    YUM! I had to make some changes based on what I had on hand. I didn’t have any cottage cheese or panko bread crumbs. Instead I used some milk, cream cheese, and used regular store-bought bread crumbs. I didn’t measure the milk and cream cheese, but it turned out fine. I also sauteed half an onion and some garlic with the chicken and added some garlic powder, too. I feel it needed some more zing. Maybe more salt than what I put in. Someone’s idea of adding some dijon mustard would probably be good too. All in all, this is a good healthy recipe that will keep and play around with. I love using the quinoa instead of rice, and NO cream soup!

  15. Ashley
    January 16, 2014 / 9:21 pm

    This recipe is delicious!! We didn’t have cottage cheese on hand, so we used plain Greek yogurt. It was a fantastic, quick weeknight meal. Thank you!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      January 17, 2014 / 7:31 am

      So glad it was a hit for you! And thanks for taking the time to send this note 🙂

  16. February 10, 2014 / 11:13 am

    What great idea for quinoa…and so versatile, I can add any of my choice of vegetables to it!

  17. April
    February 11, 2014 / 4:33 pm

    This is delicious! I first made it for the “in-laws” for Christmas dinner, and they gobbled it up. The dish has become a household favorite for me and my meat-and-potatoes-guy (who gets amped about the taste as well as the protein content…he even eats the leftovers…). I’ve altered the recipe for a smaller yield (9×9 pan) and to increase the cheesiness. Here are my changes:

    2 chicken breasts
    1/2 c quinoa (uncooked)
    1 c cottage cheese
    1 c shredded white cheddar
    a few handfuls broccoli

    Sautee chicken in 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
    dust mixture with garlic powder, and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper

    Thanks for the deliciousness! We’re having the Cider Glazed Salmon tonight…!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      February 12, 2014 / 9:11 am

      Thanks so much for taking the time to send such a nice note 🙂 Your additions of fresh garlic and garlic powder sound so tasty too!

  18. Alison Kerchak
    March 11, 2014 / 8:59 pm

    I made this tonight. Didn’t have cheddar so used low fat mozzarella! This is simply delicious!! Even my picky adult son raved about it and went for seconds! The quinoa filled me up quickly so I was satisfied with a small portion! Everyone loved it! Thanks!!!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      March 12, 2014 / 10:17 am

      Yay, so glad to hear this was a success for you 🙂 Thanks so much for your note!