I swear I will never understand how my brain works, it’s the weirdest. One afternoon I was laying down to take a nap and the idea of this recipe literally just popped into my head. There had been no mention of quinoa or mac n cheese or anything of the sort, but all of a sudden it was just there! I almost got up right then to make this, but let’s be real, sleep always takes first priority.
Let’s just jump right into it. You’re going to start the recipe by roasting your red bell pepper. Contrary to popular belief, or what I imagined before I roasted a pepper for the first time, it is SO easy to get a delish, perfectly roasted pepper! All you do is cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and stem.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the pepper flat side down. Stick in the oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Your pepper should look slightly charred and nice and wrinkly. Put the pepper off to the side to cool, we’ll deal with her again in a bit.
While your pepper is roasting, start cooking your quinoa. Pour your broth and your water into a large pot, add the quinoa and cook until the liquid has all evaporated. The broth is going to give the quinoa a bit more flavor, as opposed to just cooking it in water.
While the quinoa is cooking, we’re going to make our cheese sauce. In a large frying pan, heat up your olive oil and then add in your diced garlic. Cook for several minutes until it is a caramely color. Next, add in the butter and let it melt all the way. Add the flour and then whisk it together with a fork until it is a thick paste consistency.
Add your milk and cheese to your paste on medium heat and stir continually so that the cheese doesn’t burn. If it starts boiling, lower your heat.
When your cheese is all melted, add in your spices. HOW GOOD DOES THAT LOOK. I just want to go swimming in that glorious pool of cheese!
By this point your quinoa should be done cooking. Pour the cheese sauce into the pot of quinoa and stir until it is mixed alllll together. No quinoa left behind. And then re-visit the roasted red peppers. The skin should be easy to remove, so just with your hands pull off as much skin as you can. This is going to give you a better consistency and make it less tough. Give the red pepper a rough chop into bite size pieces and then add it to the cheesy quinoa and give it a stir to get the pepper evenly distributed.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the mac and cheese into a 9×13 baking sheet and top with bread crumbs and parm. Place in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Serve as a side or as the main event! I served it with grilled shrimp on top and it was superb!! Just to note it does make quite a bit of mac n cheese, so feel free to half the recipe.
Leave a comment below or comment on Instagram (@heyemilyann) how you would serve it!