I had a lot of time to think about how I was going to create this dish today. Five hours, in fact. Five very long, backbreaking hours of raking and bagging about 4.3 trillion leaves. Needless to say, my hands are so blistered and sore that it's a challenge even typing these words. Thank goodness this dinner tasted even better than I had hoped, because I was starving.
The inspiration for this pie began when a co-worker mentioned baked spaghetti earlier this week. She described it as cooked noodles mixed with parmesan cheese and an egg, pressed into a baking dish, then topped with marinara and cheese and baked. Sounds good, except I don't really like pasta and I want more vegetables in my dinner.
So I decided to make the same crust, subbing in cooked quinoa (I mixed together some white and black quinoa) spiked with some basil pesto for the spaghetti noodles. You could easily use any other grain you have on hand (rice, farro, wheatberries, etc). I topped my par-baked crust with some balsamic roasted vegetables - tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and onion.
I also had a small hunk of leftover cream cheese I wanted to use up. It worked very well in this pie, however you could easily sub ricotta, goat cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, or cottage cheese. Because I only had about 2 ounces of cream cheese (1/4 of a package), I added some plain yogurt. The yogurt not only helped with the consistency (thinning the sauce), but it also provided a nice tang to offset the richness of the cream cheese. Finally, I added a great 1-year aged cheddar that I brought home from Door County, WI last weekend. This cheese sauce was DELICIOUS.
You could easily throw this together on a weeknight if you do some simple planning ahead (have your quinoa cooked and roast your vegetables in advance). It tastes so good - nutty, herby, vegetabley, and cheesy. You will want seconds.
Vegetable Pie with Quinoa Crust
For the crust:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp pesto (alternatively, you could just use chopped herbs or omit)
1 egg, beaten
For the vegetables:
3 cups or so of your favorite vegetables (I used broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms)
olive oil, salt, pepper
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the sauce:
1/4 cup softened cream cheese (or ricotta, chevre, cottage cheese, sour cream, mascarpone, or anything that sounds good to you)
1/4 cup yogurt (or more of the above substitutions)
1/2 cup milk, cream, or half & half
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
1.5 cups or more shredded cheese (I used cheddar but anything will do)
First, roast your veggies. Clean and cut veggies, place on sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Roast at 400 degrees until charred, about 20 minutes.
While your veggies are roasting, prepare your quinoa. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring quinoa and water or stock to a boil. When it boils, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add pesto or herbs, if using.
Mix 1.5 cups of your cooked (and cooled slightly) quinoa with a beaten egg. Press into a greased baking dish (I used a glass pie dish). Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce, folding in the shredded cheddar last.
Assemble your pie. Put your roasted veggies in the par-baked crust. Pour over your cheese sauce and shake pan to get sauce to trickle down and coat the veggies. Top with a thin layer of grated parmesan cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until hot and golden brown on top. Let cool 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
ONE YEAR AGO: Mexi Turkey Juicy Lucy
TWO YEARS AGO: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna