Fluffy quinoa is tossed with roasted petite roma tomatoes, sautéed shallots and garlic, chopped basil, and grated mozzarella cheese. This heavenly mixture is topped with slices of juicy beefsteak tomatoes and fresh mozzarella then baked to beautiful, bubbling perfection. Fresh basil and a drizzle of sweet and tangy balsamic reduction are the finishing touches on this masterpiece.
This caprese quinoa bake is a satisfying vegetarian meal, but you can always bulk it up with some meat. I like to serve it with some chicken paillard, but it would be equally delightful with a good steak or some garlicky grilled shrimp. You do you.
Caprese Quinoa Bake
1 1/4 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups petite roma or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a blend of red and yellow tomatoes, but all red is fine)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Fresh ground pepper
2 small shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup packed basil leaves, thinly sliced
4 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
8 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3-4 large basil leaves, chiffonade
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a small pot, bring the quinoa and 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- While the quinoa is cooking, place the halved tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes until they're tender and the skins have started to burst.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When hot, add the minced shallots and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- In a large bowl combine the quinoa, roasted tomatoes, cooked shallots and garlic, and basil. Stir in the grated mozzarella, and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Transfer the quinoa mixture to a large skillet, and smooth the top.
- Starting in the center, overlap slices of tomatoes and mozzarella in a small circle. Make a second circle of overlapping tomatoes and mozzarella, covering the surface of the quinoa. (If you're using a square or rectangular dish, just make two lines of overlapping tomatoes and mozzarella.) Cover the skillet loosely with foil, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.
- While your quinoa bake is in the oven, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vinegar becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
- Drizzle your quinoa bake with the balsamic reduction, and sprinkle with freshly sliced basil. Serve immediately.