Looking for a healthier but equally delicious version of Mac and Cheese? Then Quinoa Mac and Cheese loaded with veggies is it. A perfect vegetarian weeknight meal.
Ok, there is no “mac” in this dish, but Macaroni and Cheese lovers will definitely not be disappointed. It has that same comfort food feeling – creamy, yummy and satisfying. And, it’s super healthy with lots of veggies and of course quinoa – an excellent source of protein, fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. Not bad at all.
I tested this quinoa mac and cheese recipe several times to get the balance of ingredients and textures just right. The recipe serves 2-3 as a main dish, with a nice salad on the side or 4-6 as a side dish with chicken or fish. It can be doubled or tripled for a larger family event, potluck, brunch or buffet. Needless to say, there are lots of tweaks or adaptations you can try. Serve with canned baked beans or Instant Pot Homemade Baked Beans.
- Use pre-shredded cheese in a package.
- Make extra quinoa for another meal and use 1 1/2 cups leftover cooked quinoa.
- Ditch the breadcrumb topping for a gluten free version and, instead, spread 1/2 cup or more grated cheese on top of the casserole before baking.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use different veggies such as chopped broccoli florets (microwaved for 2 minutes), mushrooms and zucchini. Make sure the water from the veggies evaporates to avoid a watery quinoa mac and cheese.
- Use frozen spinach that is thawed and well drained (about 1/3 to 1/2 a 10-ounce package).
- Try a cheese topping instead of breadcrumbs.
- Vary the cheeses. I use a combination of gruyere and cheddar (white or orange).
Make Ahead Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- You can make the whole casserole (without baking) ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge for a day or two. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes when ready to use.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 cup dry Quinoa
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
Veggies and Cheese Sauce
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped in small pieces
- 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped in small pieces
- 1/2 cup grated or matchstick carrots
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1/4 tsp salt (or per taste)
- 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere or combo)
Panko Breadcrumb Topping
- 1 tsp butter, melted
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- pinch of garlic powder, salt, pepper, Parmesan as per taste
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- MAKE QUINOA: Rinse quinoa in a strainer. Drain and add to a small saucepan. Add water and salt. Bring to boil. Lower heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- SAUTE VEGGIES: Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium high. Add onions, carrots and peppers. Saute for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add spinach and stir for a minute until wilted. Scoop veggies into a bowl and set aside.
- MAKE CHEESE SAUCE AND CASSEROLE: In the same saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and stir for two minutes. Add milk, Dijon (if using) and salt. Continue stirring until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Add cheese, cooked quinoa and sauteed veggies. Stir to combine. Spoon into a small oven-proof casserole dish that has been sprayed with oil (or lined with parchment paper) for easier clean up.
- ADD PANKO TOPPING AND BAKE: Combine Panko crumbs, melted butter and a pinch of seasonings of your choice. Sprinkle evenly over the casserole. (Note 1 to make ahead.) Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.
- Make Ahead: Complete the recipe except for baking. Cool, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
If you make the quinoa mac and cheese, feel free to rate it in the recipe above (using the stars above “rate this recipe”) and leave a comment if you like below.
Other Quinoa dishes you might like:
Here’s a couple of other mac and cheese dishes you might like: