Baked Cherry Tomato Quinoa Casserole with Mozzarella + Pesto
Why we love it:
- 2 cups Quinoa
- 31⁄2 cups Water
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1 Onion
- 3⁄4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5 cloves Garlic (divided)
- 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Egg
- 4 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
- 11⁄2 cups Parmesan Cheese
- 11⁄2 bunches Basil
- 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
- 3⁄4 teaspoon Cider Vinegar
1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425 DEGREES
In a medium pot with a lid, combine 2 cups quinoa, 3.5 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt and set it over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, stir well then turn down the heat to medium and set the lid on to partially cover. Cook for 16 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy and tender.
While the quinoa is cooking, slice the onion in half. Peel off the skin. Thinly slice both halves into half moons.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the onions. While that gets cooking, peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the pint of cherry tomatoes.
Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are softened and some of the tomatoes have burst.
When the quinoa is done, transfer to a large bowl. Scrape in the sautéed vegetables and all of the olive oil. Add the egg and combine it thoroughly.
Chop or grate the mozzarella. Reserve a tablespoon or so of mozzarella for topping and add the rest to the bowl. Grate in the parmesan cheese, again reserving a tablespoon or so for garnish.
Lightly butter a small casserole dish. Look for one that is a 2 quart dish (the one pictured is about 8 inches by 2-3 inches wide, but a 2 quart round dish works and even an 8x8 would be ok).
Press the quinoa mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the top with 1 cup parmesan cheese and place it in the oven for 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy.
While the casserole is baking make the pesto.
Remove the basil leaves and tender stems from the bunch. Run under water and shake most of the excess off. Tear or chop once or twice into smaller pieces.
In a blender or food processor, place the pine nuts. Add ½ cup parmesan cheese, 2 garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of salt, then pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the basil and with the motor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute.
Taste the pesto and consider adding another pinch of salt or a ¼ teaspoon of cider vinegar. Add the vinegar if it seems flat or needs a boost.
Use a big spoon to scoop out the casserole. Serve with pesto.