Thanksgiving Quinoa Bake
Tomorrow’s the big day, people!! How you feeling? Strong? Medium? Hot mess?!
If you’re anything like your weird blog lady, you may be mildly crazed right now, but don’t worry. We’re gonna crush. I know it.
A little pep talk for my nervous cooks/hosts: Breathe. Everything doesn’t need to be perfect—people are just grateful that you’re letting them hang out in your house and eat your food. Have fun and remember that all manner of culinary mishaps can be camouflaged with extra gravy and heavy wine pours. Oh, and for the love of God, set your table tonight or first thing tomorrow morning!!! As a wise woman once said, “A naked table is more offensive than a naked host.”
Since you’re probably good to go on the Thanksgiving recipe front, I thought I’d plant the seed for something exciting to do with your (what I hope will be plentiful) leftovers come Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for multiple turkey dinners and/or T-Day sandwiches—I only wish everyone could experience the contact high I get watching Logan inhale his Friday sando—but sometimes it’s fun to get a little more creative.
It’s become an annual Domesticate Me tradition to serve up said creative leftover inspiration, and I’m particularly pumped about this year’s offering, which is this Thanksgiving Quinoa Bake. You know how I feel about quinoa bakes.
This particular bake was created with all manner of leftovers in mind. It’s endlessly customizable, but the building blocks are: turkey, some sort of winter squash or sweet potatoes (either roasted or pureed), a green vegetable (Brussels! green beans! peas! spinach!), gravy, and cranberry sauce. All these glorious goods get folded together with fluffy quinoa and cheese (I recommend Fontina for its nutty creaminess, but you do you), topped with garlicky breadcrumbs and baked until golden and bubbling. Serving the casserole with extra gravy and cranberry sauce is optional but recommended. More is more this week, dammit.
While I’m hoping this quinoa bake helps you deliciously repurpose any Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving/Christmas dinner leftovers, I often make this recipe even when I don’t have any leftovers to speak of. After all, it’s cozy, comforting, and combines so many cold weather favorites. I’ll sub idiotproof chicken breasts or a store-bought rotisserie bird for turkey, roast some butternut squash, throw in spinach or frozen peas, and add whatever fruit chutney or sauce I may have on hand. I occasionally skip the gravy, but it’s also easy to whip up a basic version with flour, butter, chicken broth, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs in a pinch. Just throwing that out there for my fellow holiday flavor enthusiasts.
Alright. I have to go dry brine my turkey and remind my roommate to pick up our pumpkin cake at Momofuku Milk Bar. (Yes, I shamelessly outsource dessert.) Happy Thanksgiving, friends!! Sending you alllll my best culinary vibes for tomorrow. I’m thankful for you. Virtual koala hug.
And if this bake doesn’t speak to you, I’ve got some other festive ideas for those leftovers:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth or water
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash roughly ¾-inch cubes (or 2½ cups cooked winter squash of your choice or sweet potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups diced or shredded turkey meat Chicken is also great.
- 3 packed cups baby kale or spinach or 1 heaping cup cooked and chopped green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts or green beans
- ½ cup cranberry sauce plus extra for servig
- ½ cup turkey gravy plus extra for serving
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1½ cups grated Fontina cheese divided
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs I like whole-wheat panko.
- 1 garlic clove minced
If you don’t have leftover squash or sweet potatoes on hand, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Place the squash on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon, and toss to coat. Arrange the squash in an even layer and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time, or until just tender.
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and chicken broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Transfer the quinoa to a large mixing bowl and add the roasted squash, turkey, greens, cranberry sauce, gravy, thyme, and half of the Fontina cheese. Fold everything together until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer the quinoa filling to a medium casserole dish or large ovenproof skillet and lightly smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining Fontina. Briefly set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute or until golden (be very careful not to burn it!!). Stir in the panko and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs over the casserole.
Bake the casserole for 25 minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve warm with extra gravy and cranberry sauce.
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