Mexican Chicken Verde Quinoa Casserole Recipe

Casserole topped with cheese and cilantro
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Total Time: 90 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 60 min
Servings: 6 (2 cups each)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

395 calories
11g fat
43g carbs
34g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 (2 cups each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 395
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 697mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Total Sugars 7g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 34g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 238mg 18%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 1057mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

This cheesy Mexican quinoa casserole is a crowd pleaser! With 10 grams of fiber and 34 grams of protein per serving, it is a stick to your ribs kind of meal. Better yet, it’s made in only one dish to minimize cleanup.

Quinoa is high in protein, amino acids, minerals, fibers, antioxidants, and vitamins. Quinoa is also gluten-free, so it's an option for those with celiac disease or gluten-related disorders. 

Besides the fact that this recipe is easy, delicious, and only requires a casserole dish, knife, and cutting board to prepare, it is easy to adapt to a variety of tastes and dietary needs. See all of the suggestions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breast (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 cup ​quinoa (rinsed)
  • 2 cups black beans (canned, drained, and rinsed)
  • 2 medium yellow squash (or zucchini, chopped)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 (4-oz.) can green chilies (drained)
  • 3/4 cup salsa verde
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 2 cups peppers and onions (frozen)
  • 1 cup jack cheese (grated)
  • Optional: avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, and green onions for serving

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  2. Spray a large casserole dish with oil. In the dish, mix together chicken, quinoa, black beans, yellow squash, mushrooms, chiles, salsa, spices, salt, and pepper.

  3. Pour broth over the top, which helps move the quinoa to the bottom to cook through. Top with frozen peppers and onions.

  4. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove lid and sprinkle cheese over the top. Place back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

  5. Let sit for 10 minutes so the liquids can finish absorbing, then serve with desired garnishes.

Variations and Substitutions

Quinoa, the fiber-rich South American ​pseudo-grain, makes the perfect base for this casserole. It bakes up perfectly tender in the oven with just a little bit of chicken broth. Most grocery stores sell quinoa, but if you can’t find it or aren’t sure if you’ll like it, swap in brown rice.

If you use brown rice, top it with 2 cups of very hot chicken broth before baking and keep the casserole covered the whole time in the oven, as brown rice takes a bit longer to cook. When the rice is tender, sprinkle the casserole with cheese and place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Swap the chicken for cubes of tofu, crumbled tempeh, or add more beans for a meatless version. Try a mix of pinto beans and black beans for variety. Alternately, if your carbohydrate needs are lower, feel free to leave out the black beans and use an extra half-pound of chicken.

Consider this quinoa casserole recipe a template and play with a variety of different flavor combinations. Turn it into a Mediterranean quinoa casserole by swapping in canned tomatoes for the salsa and chilies, use oregano, basil, and crushed red chili flakes for spices, white beans instead of black, and a sprinkle of feta before serving.

Or try a broccoli cheddar version, leaving out the salsa and chilies, swapping broccoli for squash, cheddar for jack cheese, and use a teaspoon of dried thyme to flavor.

Cooking and Serving Tips

  • If you’ve ever cooked quinoa before only to discover it had a slightly bitter taste, the problem may have been forgetting to rinse it. Quinoa comes coated with saponin, a naturally occurring chemical that helps it ward off insects, so make sure to give your quinoa a good rinse in a fine-mesh sieve before cooking.
  • Don’t worry too much if you pull your casserole out of the oven and notice a little extra liquid bubbling. Most of it will soak up while it sits. You may want to check the casserole towards the end of cooking. If it looks dry, add an extra quarter cup of broth.
  • This recipe makes a fairly complete meal, but if you’d like something more substantial, try a serving of tortilla chips or a crunchy salad of romaine, radishes, and tomatoes with a lime vinaigrette.

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  1. Angeli V, Miguel Silva P, Crispim Massuela D, et al. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): An Overview of the Potentials of the "Golden Grain" and Socio-Economic and Environmental Aspects of Its Cultivation and MarketizationFoods. 2020;9(2):216. Published 2020 Feb 19. doi:10.3390/foods9020216