Just as I highlighted in my last post, quinoa is a great protein to add to your post-game protein menu. Quinoa, the vegetarian protein is unique in that it contains all nine essential amino acids and is completely plant-based. Our body cannot produce its own protein-building amino acids so we have to obtain it from nature. Quinoa is an ancient grain, which means that over thousands of years the plants makeup composition has been largely untouched. Because the quinoa seed is entirely intact it is considered a whole grain nutritionally. Check out this Quinoa eggplant casserole recipe for an easy Sunday prep meal for the week.
2 eggplants (about 2 lb)
3 tbsp olive oil sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups packed baby spinach
1½ cups all natural marinara sauce, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Slice stem off eggplant and cut into ¼-inch slices. Arrange on prepared sheets and brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway.
3. In a large saucepan, bring quinoa and 1¾ cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, 5 to 10minutes. Fluff with fork and stir in spinach. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
4. Spread ½ cup marinara sauce on bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Layer half of the eggplant over sauce, covering bottom of baking dish.
5. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa mixture, eggs, oregano and pepper flakes. Transfer to baking dish and spread in an even layer, pressing down with a moist spatula. Dollop ricotta on top of casserole and top with ½ cup mozzarella.
6. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa mixture, eggs, oregano and pepper flakes. Transfer to baking dish and spread in an even layer, pressing down with a moist spatula. Dollop ricotta on top of casserole and top with ½ cup mozzarella.
7. Place another layer of eggplant slices on top. Cover casserole with 1 cup marinara sauce and top remaining ½ cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden in some spots.
*If you suffer from night shades a good substitution for egg plant is zucchini. Just slice the zucchini length wise to create layers