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Baked Cherry Tomato Quinoa Casserole with Mozzarella + Pesto

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
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Why we love it:

In the summer when the basil bunches are plentiful, pesto must be made! This will make a large batch and is great kept in the fridge for a few uses. Quinoa is most often served soft and fluffy in a salad but pressed into a flavorful casserole here is a fun twist on an old school rice casserole. It’s delicious hot but also wonderful at room temperature. We highly recommend heating some up for breakfast the next day with a fried egg on top!


  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 312 cups Water
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 Onion
  • 34 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic (divided)
  • 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
  • 112 cups Parmesan Cheese
  • 112 bunches Basil
  • 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 34 teaspoon Cider Vinegar

Cooking Instructions

  • 2. QUINOA

    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.

  • 3. SAUTE

    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.

  • 4. TOSS

    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.

  • 5. CHEESE

    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.

  • 7. PESTO

    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.

  • 8. SERVING

    Use a big spoon to scoop out the casserole. Serve with pesto.

Check out our new features!


    omit cheese. Or sub for a non-dairy cheese. If you make cashew cheese, this a nice place to swirl some in
    fresh chevre or a more firm but shreddable sheep or goat cheese works nicely. Another option is to use a crumbly feta which won’t become stringy but the flavor and color is nice
    This works nicely with cooked rice or spaghetti squash too
  • PESTO:
    you can omit making the pesto if you’d like to save the step and serve this with a balsamic syrup, leftover romesco sauce (did you cook last week!?), hummus, or a tzatziki style yogurt sauce
  • EGG:
    if allergic it's ok to omit the egg and sub nothing. The end result might feel a little looser, but will taste great. You could sub a few tablespoons of a creamy cheese like ricotta, cottage cheese or cream cheese to help bind
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