You know what I like? Lasagna! You know what I also like? Quinoa! Guess what, they’re friends…ever since a few weeks ago when I married the two.
They had quite the honeymoon in my tummy.
I came up with this meal idea while visiting my parents in Utah. Unlike our gluten free friendly household, my parents home is filled with gluten galore. My mom does a great job trying to accommodate Braelyn by buying all kinds of prepackaged gluten free goodies that she can snack on…which kind of makes me cringe. That stuff is packed with preservatives.
But then I have to remember that when I was a kid on summer vacation, a significant part of my memories included filling ourselves chuck full of sugar, gluten free or not. I remember specifically riding our bikes to the store across the street to purchase jawbreakers the size of baseballs that would take us the entire month to finish.
So, with concern to Braelyn’s goodies I just have to take a deep breath and look away.
Although Braelyn would have been fine eating corn tortilla quesadillas every night (her current food obsession) I was determined to make something different one night. Plus, I wanted to put my parents through the same mealtime torture that Ben experiences every night, beginning with me scrounging through the pantry and fridge for dinner ideas and ending with a 50% chance of an edible dinner with 100% chance of starving kids by the time it is ready to serve.
Looking through my mom’s pantry, I quickly eyed the bag of quinoa, bottle of artichoke hearts and jar of spaghetti sauce. Why not make a quinoa version of lasagna?! And to top it off, we had some leftover chicken in the fridge.
Sounds like a perfect meal to me. It was. Emry downed it and Braelyn approved. My parents even gave their official two thumbs up.
And since this meal is made with quinoa, which is considered a super food with its high protein and whole grain content, it makes for a much healthier alternative to your typical noodle and cheese saturated lasagnas. You really can dig in on this one and not feel an ounce of guilt…you just may feel a little full.
It’s always a fun challenge to recreate a gluten free replica of a specific recipe, but it’s extra satisfying to come up with a completely new idea for mealtime that proves to be a success. I love being able to share these meals with you, especially when living a gluten free lifestyle can quickly become bland, boring and repetitive. There’s always room for creative meals, and this is definitely one of them.
You won’t be disappointed!
What fun ways have you adapted your favorite lasagna recipes?
- ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
- 1½ cups water
- dash of salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 carrots, shredded and sliced thin
- 1 small onion, diced
- 5-6 bella mushrooms, sliced (to make 1 cup)
- 1½ cups diced raw, or cooked, chicken breast*
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 can Ragu spaghetti sauce, gluten free (I prefer the sundried tomato and basil flavor)
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan, plus about ⅓ cup more for topping
- 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped (15 oz.)
- ⅔ cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
- Add quinoa, water and a dash of salt to a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Allow to sit away from heat with the top off while you make the sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Once hot, add carrots, onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, about ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until onions become tender. Add diced chicken and cook additional 3-4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink on the outside.* Add Italian seasoning and granulated garlic. Add spaghetti sauce and stir to coat all vegetables. Cover with lid and let simmer on low for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray.
- As sauce is simmering, whisk together egg and ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan in a small bowl. Transfer cooked quinoa to a medium sized mixing bowl. Slowly pour in egg mixture while stirring quinoa to make sure egg doesn't cook with the heat from the quinoa.
- Pour quinoa mixture into 8X8 baking dish. Gently pat down with back of spoon and even out layer in baking dish. Sprinkle a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese over quinoa. Pour sauce mixture over cheese and spread to make even. Evenly distribute coarsely chopped artichoke hearts over sauce. Sprinkle top with remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.