Wow – I was so skeptical of this dish, but it really blew me away! I am a self proclaimed pasta addict, but let me tell you , I did not miss the pasta in this dish at all! It was sooo good! I also cheated and used jarred sauce, but if you want to make it from scratch, here is the original recipe. I also added a bag of spinach to kick up the veggie content 🙂
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
basil and oregano, to taste (I used about 1/4 cup total)
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup (4 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 oz parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano, shredded
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (optional, exclude to make gluten-free)
Fill a pan with 1-1 1/2 inches water. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add chicken. Cover and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Flip over the chicken and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove from water and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a large baking dish with olive oil spray.
To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it’s almost fully absorbed. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer, and rinse with cold water for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the quinoa and water (and a dash of salt) to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and chicken with the sauce and mix thoroughly.
Place half the mixture in the baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and the parmigiano/pecorino. Add the breadcrumbs.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 more minutes.