Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

WEDNESDAY

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

Intro Collage

 

“You need this {dinner} today”…stated Tieghan over at Half-Baked Harvest when she posted this dish back in July.  More than one month later, her words remain true and when I selected this dish over the weekend for our dinner menu this week I had no idea how much I would need this tasty, summery, but most of all…EASY…dinner tonight.

The first day back after a vacation or a long holiday weekend is always a bit rough but yesterday was downright rocky.  I said good-bye to Michael at around 4:30am as he left, once again, for business in Finland this week and, as usual, I just could not get back to sleep.  By the time the children got up to get ready for school I felt as though we should be sitting down for lunch.  My energy continued to wane throughout the day.  That is until 6:10pm…when Max’s football coach slowly walked him out to the car and let me know that Max sustained a concussion during practice.  Needless to say, adrenaline kicked in and remained at peak levels for the rest of the evening.

Now, if you follow this space regularly, you may remember that the last time Michael was out of the country {business in Japan} only two short weeks ago, I ended up in the emergency room after shaving off the better part of my thumb on a mandolin while making homemade potato chips.  This trip was Max’s turn.  At this rate, the ER staff will make our Christmas card list and the first question upon our arrival will be…”Oh, is Michael out of town again”?  In any event, after a confirmed diagnosis of a concussion we were sent home and I was told to monitor him through the night.  Now, I have been here before…a few years ago Maddie sustained a concussion during a fall from her horse and I was given the same directive so believe me when I say it is more than a bit worrisome putting your child {whom has just sustained a head injury} to bed.  Needless to say, keeping him up all night was not an option.  Shortly after he turned in, I set my phone alarm to go off every hour and a half throughout the night and crawled into bed.  Max made it through the night just fine but we were both exhausted by morning, bringing back the all too vivid memories of having a newborn in the house…oh my, how did we do that?

Come dinner time this evening I was so grateful that this dish required so little in terms of preparation but delivered a creamy, cheesy dose of comfort food…Thank you Tieghan!

Quinoa…a hearty, healthy grain provides the texture in this dish…

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And I was happy to find yet another way to use my current, abundant garden supply of basil & tomatoes…

Basil Tomato Collage

Just a few more ingredients, predominately cheese, come together to make a rich, creamy sauce.  I used double the amount of mozzarella cheese called for in the original recipe {8 ounces freshly shredded and 8 ounces sliced into rounds} and the children thought it could have used a bit more, but my kids LOVE cheese.

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All assembled and ready for the oven…

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Fifteen minutes in the oven {the last 2 minutes under the broiler} and dinner is done…

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Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake {adapted from Half-Baked Harvest}

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 1¼ cups of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons {about 1½ – 2 cups}
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large sauce pan heat tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat.  Once warm, whisk in heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in the prepared quinoa.  Fold in half of the shredded mozzarella, half of the tomatoes, and half of the basil.  Pour the quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella, as well as the mozzarella rounds, and the remaining tomatoes.
  3. Bake for 10-13 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes longer or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining basil.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

K Initial

 

 

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