Guest Post: Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa Bake

September 3, 2013

Hope everyone had a lovely long weekend. We made it to Colorado on Sunday evening after several very lengthy days in the car.colorado state line

We’ve spent two glorious evenings in Colorado Springs with Michael’s family eating homemade dinners, going for high altitude runs and decompressing from our travels.

This rest, of course, is short lived. I’m hopping a flight for San Francisco today and Michael gets back in the car to drive the remainder of the way to Lake Tahoe. With all the moving, travel and wedding jabber taking center stage here on QKE I figure it’s high time for a recipe.

Cooking has been impossible on the road but luckily I have a blog friend to fill the void. You may remember me mention Emily a few months back in my recap of the Back in the Day 10k. Emily is training for her first marathon, is an avid reader and has a lovely blog called Leaf Parade with some beautiful food photography.

The recipe she’s sharing today includes two of my favorites: quinoa and zucchini. It’s also gluten-free albeit not vegan. Sorry vegan friends. I hope you enjoy Emily’s recipe and show her some love by clicking over to her blog.

I’ll try to get in one more post before wedding festivities take over completely but if not, I’ll pop in next week as the new Mrs. Chase!

Enjoy and Exhale!


Hello new friends! I’m Emily K. and you can find me over at Leaf Parade, where I write recipes, share stories, and talk an awful lot about how much I love running. I knew Lisa would be busy merrymaking with her family this month, and I was delighted when she asked me to stop by her site and say hi to you all. I figured it would be a good opportunity to share a quinoa recipe with readers who are primed to appreciate such an excellent ingredient. A tip of the hat to all of you and your good taste.

And a tip of the hat to Lisa and Michael, and to all their exciting new frontiers!

My mother always said that if I ate too much of one thing, I would turn into it.


I am a zucchini.


Growing up Connecticut meant that my father tended a vegetable garden in our yard every summer — rows and rows of cherry tomatoes, skinny carrots in plenty, and a pumpkin patch that would only begin to take off well after my sister and I had headed back to school. Every year, the real providers of the garden were the squash crops. And the zucchini was always king.


There’s something outspoken and almost overbearing about a zucchini, about the way that it just keeps going on and on — even as you roll your eyes at it, even as it catches you stealing a peak over at the green beans. Zucchini is a crop that really just can’t take a hint, and so it’s only by our good fortune that it also happens to be so delicious. As summer draws to a close, our kitchens do as they do every year at this time — they abound in one hundred fine shades of zucchini green.


As we inch closer to the fall and to all things pumpkin, I am happy to be a zucchini for just a while longer. Soon we will be going “back-to” things. We will trade in our zucchini muffins and our zucchini noodles for good sleeping weather and that lovely, familiar scent of freshly-sharpened number 2 pencils. But, until then, let’s be here — right here. Let’s be zucchini.


Cheesy zucchini quinoa bake (gluten-free)

For four.


  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (and a bit more for the baking pan)
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Sea salt + cracked black pepper
  • 3 pounds zucchini (half of it grated, the other half cut into very thin half moons), drained and squeezed
  • Up to 1 teaspoon (to your taste) crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (low fat is also okay)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup cooked), cooled completely
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese


In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook for a few moments, until soft but not crisp. Add the grated zucchini, red pepper flake, and lemon zest and juice, and stir well to combine. Add another pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook the zucchini until it is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the sauteed zucchini to cool.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and wipe down an 8×8 baking pan with a bit of olive oil. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta and eggs. In a larger bowl, add the quinoa, the cooled zucchini, and the ricotta and egg mixture. Add another pinch each of salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan, and bake for about 60 minutes, until the casserole has set up. Top with Pecorino Romano cheese and put the dish back into the hot oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the top browns. Serve hot.


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