This healthy Quinoa Mac and Cheese is filled with broccoli, spinach and plenty of cheddar cheese, and the majority of it can be prepped ahead of time. It's a delicious vegetarian and gluten free dinner recipe that the whole family will gobble up!
If you're going to make quinoa the star of a recipe, you better make this quick and easy Quinoa Mac and Cheese!
You know I adore macaroni and cheese -- take my vegan mac and cheese and this cheesy cauliflower rice skillet, for example. Both are made with a delicious cheese sauce, while still being plenty nutritious. A win-win if you ask me.
- A meatless meal that's filled with protein thanks to the quinoa
- Made with broccoli and spinach, so you're getting a serving of vegetables in as well
- If you prep the quinoa and broccoli in advance, the whole meal comes together in less than 10 minutes!
- Quinoa - The main ingredient; you can use white, red or tri-color quinoa. If you want to make this recipe super quick, cook the quinoa ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
- Broccoli - Same as above -- feel free to roast or steam the broccoli ahead of time so it's ready to go. You can use fresh or frozen broccoli. Not a fan of broccoli? Try peas instead, like in my chicken sausage pasta.
- Onion and garlic - Both are necessary because they add tons of flavor to the dish!
- Dijon mustard - Optional, but a little bit goes a long way. It just adds a hint of mustard-y flavor and is in no way overpowering.
- Spinach - Or your favorite kind of greens (think: kale, collard greens, swiss chard, etc.)
- Milk - I used almond milk and it worked great! Of course skim milk or 1% works great, and if you're going the dairy free route, I'd opt for almond, oat or soy milk.
- Cheese - A combination of cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese works well. I wouldn't ONLY use cheddar, so if you're not a fan of mozzarella, try gruyere or parmesan instead.
- Breadcrumbs - Optional, but they add a little more flavor and texture to the overall dish.
Step 1: Cook the quinoa and broccoli. First, cook the quinoa over the stove according to the package instructions. At the same time, either roast the broccoli, steam it or make my Instant Pot broccoli. At this time, you should also whisk the milk and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
Step 2: Sauté the onion and garlic. Next, heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet and add the onion. Saute it for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes before adding in the mustard. Last, stir in the spinach until it's wilted, about 1 minute.
Step 3: Make the cheese sauce. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the skillet and bring it to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle in HALF of the cheese, whisking constantly until the cheese has melted. Add the remaining cheese and whisk until the cheese sauce is smooth.
Step 4: Combine everything. Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the cooked quinoa and broccoli in, and use a large spoon to stir everything together until the quinoa is coated in the cheese.
Step 5: Add breadcrumbs (optional). The last optional step is to sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the whole skillet, then place it in the oven and broil it for 2-3 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Tips and tricks
- The entire recipe is made over the stove, so there's no need to turn on your oven or bake it
- Prep the quinoa and broccoli up to 2 days in advance and store them separately in sealed containers in the refrigerator until you're ready to make this recipe
- Don't love broccoli and/or spinach? Try adding peas and kale instead!
- If you're looking for a cornstarch substitute, try arrowroot or even all purpose flour.
- Storage: store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheat them in the microwave.
Can this be made vegan?
Yes, but if you're looking for a cheesy vegan recipe, I'd opt for my vegan mac and cheese instead.
What are the health benefits of quinoa?
So many! It's gluten free and loaded with protein, making it a go-to when cooking without meat. It's loaded with fiber and Vitamin B as well -- what's not to love?! Want more info on quinoa? Check out this post by Love and Lemons on how to cook fluffy quinoa.
Am I able to add meat to this dish?
Of course! I think sausage, chicken sausage, or cooked diced chicken would work well in this recipe.
More vegetarian recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- 4 cups quinoa cooked
- 1 cup broccoli chopped and cooked
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 5 oz. spinach
- 2 cups almond milk or milk of choice
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs optional
- First, cook the quinoa over the stove according to the package instructions. At this same time, you should cook the broccoli: either roast it, steam it or cook it in the Instant Pot. While those are cooking, whisk the milk and cornstarch together and set aside.
- Next, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté it for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes until fragrant. Add the dijon and stir for about 30 seconds, then add in the spinach and cook it until it's wilted, about 1 minute.
- Pour the milk mixture into the skillet and bring it to a low boil. Reduce it to a simmer, then add in HALF of the cheese, whisking constantly until it's melted. Then, stir in the remaining cheese until the cheese sauce is smooth; remove skillet from the heat.
- Add the cooked quinoa and broccoli into the skillet, using a large spoon to stir so that the quinoa is completely coated in the cheese sauce.
- OPTIONAL: Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and place the skillet under the broiler for 2 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Enjoy!