Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

I’m trying to work on my casserole game, especially since I have recently acquired a few new beautiful baking dishes and I want to make use of them! Fit Foodie Finds inspired me with their recipe for a broccoli and cheese casserole, which I have adapted here to better fit our tastes and our pantry. I am in love this easy vegan sauce, which uses a combination of sweet potato, cashews, and nutritional yeast to make a rich and “cheesy” sauce you could re-purpose for lots of different dishes.

Who would have thought that baked quinoa would be such a star? I was convinced you had to simmer this grain to achieve that signature fluffy texture, but that is false! Baked in the oven, it turned out hearty and flavorful, and even developed a nice crispy texture on the top and around the edges.

Not only was it easy to assemble — I love a “set it and forget it” casserole! — it was also complex and rich and satisfying. Enjoy!

3/4 cup cashews, soaked for at least one hour
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups vegetable broth, divided, plus more if necessary
1 cup tri-color quinoa (raw)
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
olive oil
2 chili peppers, finely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil and add half of the chopped sweet potato, boiling until fork tender (about five minutes). Strain sweet potato and add to a blender along with soaked cashews, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Cover top of blender with a kitchen towel and blend until very smooth. Mix in remaining vegetable broth a little at a time until it is a thin cheesy sauce, but not too watery.

In a lightly greased 8×8 square pan, add quinoa to the bottom of the pan. Pour cheesy sauce over the quinoa and mix together until the mixture is evenly spread along the bottom of the pan. Press broccoli florets and remaining chopped sweet potato into the cheesy base and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are lightly browned and roasted.

While it is in the oven, place walnuts on a baking sheet, toss with chili powder and a pinch of salt, and then toast on the top rack of the oven for 5 minutes (be careful not to burn). Meanwhile, in a small skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat, saute chopped chili peppers until softened and lightly browned, about five minutes. Serve casserole topped with toasted walnuts and chili peppers.

Serves 4

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