Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan



Since starting a new job, I’ve been doing a fair amount of dinner prep on Sunday night for Monday (and sometimes Tuesday). Whenever possible, I like to prep pretty much all of Monday’s meal while I’m making Sunday’s dinner, so that Tom just needs to pop it in the oven or heat it on the stove when he gets home (about 15 minutes before me).

The nice thing is most of these dishes tend to be baked pastas, chicken casseroles, etc. and make for lunch leftovers, too. The bad thing is most of these dishes tend to be baked pastas, chicken casseroles, etc. and I don’t want to make the same thing every week.

This meal definitely started as the idea of a baked pasta in my mind, but it utilizes quinoa instead of pasta and chicken, where most baked pasta dishes either lack a protein or use something like ground beef or sausage. The result is a meal that is tasty, healthy, packs a crazy protein punch, and can be made in advance. All good by me.

I made a really simple sauce for this, but if you’re not feeling it, you can always use the jarred stuff. I meant to add spinach to this to make it a full meal, but of course I didn’t see the spinach  until I was putting this into the fridge, fully assembled. So, we just had spinach salads instead. 🙂


Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan

  • 10 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 4-6 servings


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • basil and oregano, to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cooked* and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a 2 qt. baking dish with cooking oil.
  2. Make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it’s almost fully absorbed.

    Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, ,oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.
  3. Make the quinoa: Place the rinsed quinoa and water or broth in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil (if using water, you may want to add a little salt). Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa and chicken with the sauce and mix thoroughly. Place half the mixture in the baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan. Add the breadcrumbs, if using.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 more minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley (and additional Parmesan) before serving, if desired.

    *Note: I seasoned my chicken with Italian seasoning, and then pan-fried it in about 1 tablespoon of oil. You can cook the chicken any way you like.
Elly Says Opa!
  • Holy smokes! This looks amazing!! How am I so lame that I’ve never cooked with quinoa?? the time has definitely come. Great combo.

  • Well we all know I love my pasta but I love the protein packed punch of quinoa more! What a great idea to use it as a pasta substitute! This is pure comfort food if ever I’ve seen it.

  • Quinoa is a healthy as well as tasty substitute.

  • steffie

    This looks awesome! Can’t wait to try it!

  • I’ve never seen a quinoa bake before, but wow! Gotta get on this really soon. Thanks for sharing!!

  • I love this take on chicken parm! I need to get better at prepping dinners ahead of time. But I can barely plan for today let alone tomorrow.

  • Great way to introduce quinoa in my house. I have some, but have not yet cooked with it. I’m skeered.

    Now… I’ll try this!!

  • This is such a great dinner idea. I am a huge fan of quinoa…such a great way to add a lot of nutrition to this dish. Sounds amazing!

  • I love this, because I feel like I always use quinoa the same way, in some sort of quinoa-based salad. I love a baked comfort food use for it.

  • I love the idea of this. I’ve been on a major pasta kick lately. I need to back away from the carbs and welcome more protein into my dinners!

  • Lauren

    I’m super pumped about this dish. Making it tomorrow! Thanks!

  • Yum, what a great way to enjoy quinoa!

  • Elizabeth

    just made this for dinner…omg it is AMAZING!!! i probably tripled the chilli cos i’m a huge fan.
    the only thing i was wondering, is there a reason you rinse the quinoa for so long at the beginning.

    • elly

      I’m so glad you liked it, Elizabeth. I rinse the quinoa because if you don’t rinse it, it can be really really bitter. You probably don’t need to rinse it quite as long, but I just do it to make sure. 🙂

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  • This is an amazing idea for dinner! I never thought of making baked pastas with quinoa substitution. Thanks for the idea! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • i am such a fan of the addition of quinoa to this dish! what a healthy option 🙂

  • aura

    Looks great! But with what could I replace chicken in this recipe (as I am vegetarian)?

    • elly

      I would try some thick slices of portobello mushroom, and maybe a green too (I had wanted to add spinach originally but forgot).

  • Ondrea aka DefinitelyO

    I made this over the weekend (was in a hurry so used my pre-made sauce). we loved it!! and I took it to a new mom and it was great as a frozen/reheated dish as well. thank you! 🙂

    • elly

      Glad you liked it Ondrea!

  • Karin

    I made this recipe for lunches for the week and doubled it so that my husband and I would be set. OMG, this is really good. Thank you so much for posting.

    • elly

      I’m so glad you both liked it!

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  • Michele

    I’m trying to cut back on Gluten and decided to make this for my very finicky boyfriend who requested Italian food. We both LOVED it!

    • elly

      So glad to hear that, Michele!

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  • Kristine

    This was my first time making and eating quinoa. This was delicious; thank you! I also loved the sauce.

    • elly

      So glad your liked your first quinoa dish!

  • laura

    Hello! This was wonderful; made it twice for my family already. Just curious if you know the calorie count/serving size for this meal. Thanks!

    • elly

      I’m glad you liked it. I don’t have it for this meal, but I always use when I’m trying to figure out nutritional information for a recipe.

  • dsm diane

    Absolutely delicious!!! Will share this one!

  • Making this now! Maybe I missed it, but do you cut the chicken into cubes? That’s what I’ll do, but will stay tuned… 🙂

    • elly

      You can cut it or shred it, whichever you want. Hope you like it!

  • We are going to have this for dinner tonight and I can’t wait! I’ve been excited about it since LAST night. 🙂

  • made an adaptation of this tonight and we loved it. Thanks

    • elly

      glad to hear it!

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  • We love this recipe. I made it the other night and posted it on my blog with a link back to yours. So glad I can get my husband to enjoy quinoa!

    • elly

      Glad you love it, Lucia!

  • Karen

    Found this on Pinterest and made it for dinner tonight. The entire family LOVED it! Thanks for taking such a classic meal and making it healthier. I am always on the hunt for good quinoa recipes. This one is delicious!

    • elly

      So happy to hear that, Karen!

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  • I made this (finally) tonight and it was a huge hit!!!

    • elly

      Yay! Glad to hear you liked it!

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