Mexican Quinoa Casserole

I don’t do many casseroles especially when the weather is warmer but this one was delicious, simple to make, and full of healthy fresh ingredients.  I plan to make it again.  We served it with some homemade tortilla chips (I sliced up tortillas, sprayed them with cooking spray, topped with sea salt, and baked for 5-10 minutes at 425 until crispy).

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
Recipe adapted from Quinoa 365

Taco Seasoning:
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper

Casserole:
1/2 c. quinoa
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 yellow, red, or orange pepper, diced (I used yellow)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. ground beef
3/4 c. prepared salsa
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. sliced black olives

Instructions:

Combine taco seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside for later use.
Cook the quinoa to package directions.  (If it doesn’t specify amount of water for that measurment of quinoa, use 1 c. water)
In a greased 2 qt. casserole dish, spread the zucchini, pepper, and carrots.  Sprinkle vegetables with 1 tsp. taco seasoning.

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef until no longer pink.  Add beans, quinoa, and remaining taco seasoning and stir.  Spread beef mixture on top of the vegetables.

Pour salsa over evenly over the top.  Sprinkle with cheese and olives on top.

(If freezer cooking, freeze now.  Thaw in the fridge and cook following instructions below).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and vegetables are tender crisp.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Husband Rating: 5 out of 10

Food for Thought: This meal could easily be adapted to be vegetarian by omitting the beef and adding an additional can of black beans.  The beef could also be subbed out for chicken or ground turkey.  I also plan to maybe add a few more vegetables, maybe an additional pepper next time, because the veggies turned out so tasty.

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