It is easy to get into a routine with the fruits and vegetables we buy at the grocery store. I always grab a bag of carrots, tomatoes and a bunch of kale. I always grab apples for the week. Even beyond fruits and vegetables I always restock our yogurt supply and it's a rare occasion that we don't have chicken a few times a week.
Knowing this about my habits, I try to make an effort to switch it up as often as I can. I'll grab a few navel oranges or some pears with the apples. I'll buy spinach and romaine for our salad for the week rather than kale (although truth be told I always miss the kale!). Variety is important not only for the taste buds but for nutritional purposes.
This week I was perusing the leafy greens at Argus Farm Stop and the rainbow swiss chard jumped out at me with the supple leaves and bright colors! This was my kale substitute for the week. I wasn't sure how I was planning to prepare it so I went on a recipe hunt.
I found this quinoa au gratin recipe on Cooking Light and used it for motivation. Quinoa is one my pantry items that I don't use often - mostly out of habit or lack thereof - but I love quinoa! The flavor and texture is a so hearty and healthy, plus you can't beat the protein and fiber
It only took me a time or two to realize that the water required for quinoa preparation yields the wrong texture for me (read: too mushy). I recommend 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa.
So at this point I knew I wanted to use my swiss chard for this recipe. Strangely enough during this pregnancy I haven't been a huge fan of bell peppers or yellow squash/zucchini so I wanted to find another nutritious vegetable option to compliment the swiss chard. I can still eat them, I don't hate them, they just don't sound good to me ever anymore. I decided on sweet potatoes since sweet potatoes are full of nutritious fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, iron, copper (which helps your body absorb iron) and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted by the body to Vitamin A - which plays a vital role in the development of baby's eyes, bones and skin!
Enough of me getting overly excited about how nutritionally awesome this dish is, let me tell you about how tasty it is! The egg and cheese holds all the other good stuff together. Cooking light held back on the cheese, but I did not. And yet I wouldn't call this a cheesy dish. It adds that extra bit of salt to bring out the flavors of the veggies and eggs.
Mixed all together and baked to perfection and you have yourself an beautiful, golden, crusty, crunchy vegetarian meal, my friends!
I think this recipe could be awesome with whichever vegetables and cheese you choose. I've already made this with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh diced tomatoes, butternut squash and spinach and it was equally delicious. Really, there are no limits on your vegetable prowess with this recipe ;)
Mix it all up, gently press it evenly into your dish, bake it for about 40 minutes and out comes this baby...oh yeah!
Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Quinoa Au Gratin
1/2 large red onion diced
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced into bite sized cubes
2 c of swiss chard, roughly chopped
1 c uncooked quinoa
2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c milk
3 eggs whisked
salt & pepper to taste
(optional) fresh bread crumbs
Prepare a large baking dish with some non-stick spray or butter. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Saute the onion and sweet potato in a medium to large stock pot until the potato begins to get soft. (The saute time will depend on how large the potato cubes are.) Turn off the burner, add swiss chard and quinoa and mix it up. Dump into your baking dish, add the cheese and combine evenly. Whisk your milk and eggs together and pour over the veggie quinoa mix. Use a spatula to make sure the egg coats everything evenly and gently press the mix evenly in the dish. Salt and pepper to taste (and evenly distribute a thinnish layer of breadcrumbs on top if you choose) then bake for about 40 minutes, checking the center to make sure the egg is cooked all the way through.
Can I say evenly one more time?
Slice it up like a nutritional cake and serve - enjoy and happy Friday!