Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin

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Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin: What I've Learned So Far

This recipe for Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin is meatless - but it's not vegetarian. In past blogs I've talked about the fact that cheese is made with rennet, which is curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf. SUPER appetizing, right? There's a video on How to Harvest Rennet - if you ever really want to know. The first step is getting a calf's stomach (warning, the video has one). In this particular case, the calf died at birth so perhaps if you truly know where the rennet comes from it isn't so bad. But I can guarantee you that the stuff you buy in stores comes from calves who were butchered. In many cases it's for veal production. So just bear in mind that unless the cheese specifically says it's vegetarian or uses vegetable rennet, it's not vegetarian - at least by my definition.
Ingredients for Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin
Which brings me to another point. Different people might have different definitions of what constitutes vegetarian. If you look at most vegetarian cookbooks, the recipes are chock-full of cheese. While you can certainly buy some cheese made with vegetable rennet, Parmesan cheese is NEVER vegetarian. In order to be called Parmesan, it has to be produced using traditional methods, which includes rennet. Be wary of any cheese labels that say "enzymes" or "natural enzymes." It's rennet. If you truly want to avoid animal products, it needs to say "vegetarian."
Many people confuse meatless with vegetarian. By my definition, a vegetarian meal doesn't have any meat or meat by-products in it. No rennet, chicken broth, beef broth, broth made with pork, etc. I've had really well meaning people offer me something that doesn't have pieces of meat in it, thinking it was vegetarian. Even a pie crust or other baked goods made with lard is not vegetarian to me. So just be aware. There may be times you're willing to compromise, like going out to dinner with a group, having a meal at someone's house, or participating in a happy hour or party. You may look at that cheese plate that everyone is so excited to offer you because they know you're vegetarian, and in your heart you know it isn't. But you may just go ahead and eat it anyway. Go easy on yourself. We do the best we can and we have to have balance. If you can be strict about it that's great. I'm starting to get there, but there are still times I settle for "meatless" knowing it's not really "vegetarian."

Preparing Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin

You'll Need:

• 2 C cooked quinoa

• 1 lb broccoli, cut into florets

• 1 Tbsp olive oil

• 1 tsp dried thyme

• 2 tsp dried parsley

• 2 Tbsp butter

• 2 Tbsp all purpose flour

• 2 C milk

• 4 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese

• 4 oz. shredded Provolone cheese

• 3/4 tsp salt

• 1/2 tsp ground pepper

• 1/8 tsp nutmeg

• 1/4 C bread crumbs

• 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Do This:

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Toss the broccoli florets with 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until just starting to brown.

3. Reduce the oven heat to 350.

4. Toss the roasted broccoli with the quinoa, thyme and parsley.

5. To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan, and then whisk in the flour.

6. Pour the milk into the saucepan, bring to a light boil, and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until thickened.

7. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the Gruyere, Provolone, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir into the quinoa mixture.

8. Heat the remaining 1/2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until toasted.

9. Pour the quinoa mixture into an 8x8 dish, and then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

10. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting in.

Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin: Recipe Notes

• You can substitute different cheeses in this recipe. You can use Fontina, Gouda, Emmental, or Jarlsberg.

• Try roasting Brussels sprouts and using them instead of broccoli.

• You could substitute garlic salt for regular salt if you like garlic flavor.

• You don't want to overcook the broccoli while roasting - it will continue to cook in the gratin and you don't want it to be mushy.

Quinoa and Broccoli Au Gratin

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