This is my favourite way to eat quinoa! It makes a perfect ‘meatless Monday’ kind of meal! The quinoa takes on a nutty toasted flavour after the casserole is baked in the over. Although this combination of flavours is the one I like best you can vary the layers with other ingredients to tailor to your taste or what you have – example – try a layer of roasted peppers, or fried mushrooms and caramelized onions or replace goat cheese with ricotta, replace pesto with tomato sauce. You get the idea!
Quinoa with Garlic Goat Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pesto
Spray deep casserole dish with cooking spray. I used 8 1/2" X 6 1/2" X 2 1/2 inch deep.
Cook quinoa according to manufacturer's directions. Usually means put quinoa and water in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before stirring.
To roast garlic, trim the head off a bulb of garlic. Do not peal cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, wrap in foil and roast in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. When bulb is cool enough to handle squeeze cloves out of the skin.
Mash roasted garlic, tsp olive oil and goat cheese together until evenly mixed and spreadable. Set aside.
For the sun-dried tomatoes, add the wine to the hot water and soak the tomatoes approx 20 minutes. Drain tomatoes after they are softened.
For the pesto I used Kirkland's Basil Pesto right out of the jar.
Layer 1/3rd of quinoa in the bottom of your casserole.
Spread the sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the quinoa base
Layer another 1/3rd of quinoa.
Spread goat cheese mixture carefully over the quinoa layer. The warmth of the quinoa will help soften the goat cheese. Be careful not to stir up the quinoa layer when spreading the cheese. If your cheese layer is a bit clumpy it is ok as long as it is evenly distributed. It will melt further in the oven.
Spread the pesto over the cheese layer.
Top with remaining quinoa and press gently to even out the entire casserole.
Heat in over at 350 degrees for approx 25 minutes
Slice and serve.
If not serving right away you can refrigerate the casserole after assembling. When reheating it will take 20-40 minutes to warm through.
This is a basic, work horse kind of flavour builder. It will keep in the fridge sealed for up to 1 week. Use it in salad dressings or brush on crostinis or pizza bases.
Update 5 July 2016: I just made this again and I used half a bulb of garlic. I crushed the cloves with the side of my chef knife and the skins break and peel off really easily-much easier than paring it off ! Garlic is so fresh and pungent this time of year I don’t think you need a whole bulb. I strained the oil into a bottle and kept the garlic chunks to use in a roast vegetable dish.
I had fallen into the habit of buying ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks from my supermarket. I noticed that I was doubling or even tripling the amount of cinnamon a recipe called for. Then I started reading about the health benefits of cinnamon and noticed the articles always specified true Ceylon Cinnamon. When I searched out true organic cinnamon… I was instantly transported back to the my childhood when Cinnamon and Sugar on toast was a breakfast treat! I could not believe the difference. Real cinnamon may seem expensive but you only need a small amount of the real thing!
The rule of thumb for cooking with wine is to use a wine you would drink. In one of our wine pairing dinners (Classic French Shortribs, Persimmon Winter Salad and Parsnip, Celeriac, Potato Mash with Frizzled Leeks) we made an interesting observation. We paired a Baco Noir, a Grenache Blend, a Syrah and a Barbera d’Asti with the main course. All wines were in the $24-$30 range and had scored above 90 according to various critics. The Baco Noir was the cheapest and had scored lowest of the 4 wines and it was favoured unanimously by our group of 12. The reason-IMHO- I has used a Baco Noir of good but lesser quality in the braising of the short ribs (same producer , Henry of Pelham). The other wines were excellent and also complemented the dish but there was obviously a better marriage when the same varietal was used in the cooking and the tasting. The salad course also resulted in a similar result. The dressing had a small amount of Niagara Riesling Icewine. We tasted 3 different Reislings with the salad course and the unanimous preferences was Inniskillin Late Autumn RieslingVQARiesling—LCBO 219543, which matched the sweeter quality of the dressing. The other Reislings, while excellent, were more herbal and citrus.
The moral of the story- where possible match the varietal and style of wine used in your recipes to the wine you will serve with the course.
Forget the Artificial Vanilla Extract. When Vanilla is the main flavour it deserves to be built from Pure Vanilla or Vanilla beans. The flavour depth is noticeably different with no alcohol or vinegary aspect that the artificial can leave. Even when vanilla is an addition to many other ingredients and flavours it is worth the real thing.
I wish I had understand years ago the value of a real veal stock. I sometimes wondered why I couldn’t recreate a delicious restaurant meal at home and why my sauce was always caramel coloured instead of the dark rich GLOSSY sauce from the restaurant. It’s the veal stock! It takes a long time to roast the bones, make the stock and then reduce the stock into an actual sauce but it is really hanging-around-time, not hands-on-time. I make a big batch in the winter and freeze it in 2 cup portions. I usually roast the bones and simmer the stock one day, hold it over night (in my garage-which in Canada is colder than my fridge in the winter!). I reduce it the next day to the final stock volume and either use it or freeze it. The natural gelatin from the veal bones and the reduction method result in that dark, delicious, rich, GLOSSY sauce! I now try to avoid flour or other thickening agents whenever possible.
This salad is good all year round but it is a real early summer treat when strawberries are in season! There is a surprising amount of kick to this dressing considering the easy ingredients. It comes from the garlic… if you like it really, really zesty crush the garlic instead of mince. If you like it toned down consider reducing the amount of minced garlic.