Quinoa & Cheese

by HEAB on August 26, 2012

A certain someone around here loves her macaroni & cheese.  We usually just make the Trader Joe’s brown rice version, but since we have an abundance of quinoa on hand (thank you Costco), I thought I’d try something a little different…

Quinoa & Cheese Casserole

I’ve had Janetha’s Pumpkin Mac & Cheese and Angela’s Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze both bookmarked for quite a while now.  So, this is my quick and simple version using quinoa.



  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin or pureed winter squash
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • bread crumbs or crumbled crackers for topping (I used Blue Diamond Pecan Nut Thins)
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 350°
  • Combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, & pumpkin in a food processor or blender and stir together with cooked quinoa and cheddar.  Salt & pepper to taste.  (I thought it was salty enough but did add pepper).
  • Spread quinoa & cheese mixture  in a 9 x 9 baking dish, top with crumbled bread or crackers, & cover with foil.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.


Definitely not Kraft Shells & Cheese, but if you’re looking for a lighter version of an old favorite, give it a try.  Pretty tasty, and the leftovers were even better the next day.


maria September 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Hi,I forgot where you posted about how to cook buttercup squash and now I can’t find it :/

HEAB September 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Hi Maria,
Personally, I prefer kabocha squash, but they can be prepared the same way. I have a section on cooking kabocha at the bottom of my recipe page. Here is the link: http://heathereatsalmondbutter.com/recipes/. Enjoy your squash! 🙂

Nikki September 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Oooh… I too have an abundance of Costco Quinoa & Costco Cream Cheese and Cottage Cheese in the fridge! I hope the family likes as this is going to be supper tonight!

The Frame/Letter collage on the nursery look great! I really love how you made the nursery more “mature” yet still Bright and fun!

Jen August 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

Huge congrats HEAB. So nice to see you staying true to you, your creativity and your family.

Are you eating dairy now?

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Yep, started eating it when I was pregnant with Summer, and it hasn’t bothered me since. Mmm, cheese. 🙂

Jess August 28, 2012 at 7:06 am

Looks great! I would have never thought to use quinoa in a casserole. I bet the pumpkin and cheese combo works well too!

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

It did. Hope you try it soon. 🙂

ella birt August 28, 2012 at 6:12 am

we too happen to have an abundance of quinoa on hand. even though it’s only 4 a.m. here, i am so feelin’ this recipe! 🙂 i might have to wake the hubster up with some pots gently clanging.

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Haha – I’ve so been there and often wish our kitchen was soundproof! 🙂

Samantha August 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

This sounds like a tasty and better alternative to Littles common fare. I’m tying to prep their lunches the night before for him to pack for school and the elder to eat at home during homeschool. This will be next up for tomorrow!

Tracy August 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

Sounds super yummy, Heather! Thanks for the recipe!

Have a great week! 🙂

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Tracy, you’re welcome, and I hope you had a good week as well. 🙂

Kelli Preston August 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

this is inspiring me to get out of my current recipe rut. PS I just discovered your blog is back and I am so glad!

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks Kelli. Good to be back. 🙂

janetha August 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

So strange, I made that mac & cheese last Thursday for the first time in months. Mac & cheese cravings must have been in the air 😉 Love the use of quinoa! And cream cheese! xoxo

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Mac & cheese cravings are always in the air around our house. 🙂

Katie August 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Rarely do I wish I could eat dairy, but this makes me really want some creamy deliciousness. The last time I had this was with my nacho cheese sauce and it has been far too long since I’ve made that. Adding cashews to the grocery list!

Angela August 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I can’t believe I haven’t tried quinoa mac n cheese yet! I need to get on this stat. Your take on it looks amazing!

Natalie August 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

THIS LOOKS AMAZING!!! just made your 2-ingred fudge today 🙂 another recipe to make. PINNING now!

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Mmm, fudge. One of my friends brought over a batch a few weeks ago, and it did not last long. Forgot how simple and delicious it is. Hope you enjoyed. 🙂

Erin August 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Ooh this version on a childhood favorite is quite enticing…I’ll be mixing some peas in 🙂 xo

Hannah August 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm

This does indeed look wonderful – and I’m dreaming of goats cheese melting all over it 😛

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

What a lovely dream. 🙂

Sarah August 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Such a creative idea! Imma gonna try it!

Jess @ JessieBear What Will You Wear August 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

This looks phenomenal!!! What a good idea to put pumpkin in there.

Averie @ Averie Cooks August 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I haven’t made anything using quinoa in far too long. I bet the family would go crazy for this one – anything with gooey melted cheese (three ways!!) though has that effect 🙂

And love the addition of pumpkin!

lindsay August 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I think we are all on a quinoa kick. I bet this is even better cold in the morning, with a little melted butter on top too, yes?

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Um, YES! 🙂

Meagan August 26, 2012 at 11:52 am

This looks really great Heather! I love the veggies you paired it with 🙂

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks Meagan, it was pretty good. 🙂

Purelytwins August 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

it has been months since we have made quinoa mac-cheese, so good and so easy 😉 love your version of it as well. quinoa is classic and always seems to go well with most things.

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Lori & Michelle,
Agreed, quinoa is definitely a classic. Love that grain.

Erin (Kale & Cake) August 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

I have a can of pumpkin and was looking for something to do with it! Awesome twist on a old classic 🙂

j3nn August 26, 2012 at 11:05 am

I’ve made quinoa and cheez with nutritional yeast (and peas!) and it’s SO good, so I imagine with real cheese it’s even better. YUM, YUM! I’ve also made quinoa lasagna before; all the same except quinoa in place of lasagna noodles. 🙂

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

J3nn, Quinoa – so versatile, no? I often sub it or rice for pasta in most recipes. We just always have it on hand, unlike pasta noodles. Plus, it’s much cheaper as we buy the brown rice pasta, and that stuff can get pricey!

Tiffany @ The Coconut Mama August 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

This sounds tasty! How did your daughter like it? I would love it if my 3 year old would eat this! Can’t wait to try it 🙂


HEAB August 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Um yeah, it didn’t go over so well with our daughter. I think it’s a texture thing for her. She used to eat whatever I put in front of her, quinoa included, and now she will hardly eat anything. Everyday is a guessing game as to what she’ll like/eat. Hope this is just a phase. Please tell me it’s just a phase. 😉

Tiffany @ The Coconut Mama August 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

My daughter was the pickiest eater for about a year :(. I would make her 3-4 different options at every meal. The madness finally stopped when my husband told me I would no longer make her what she wanted. She had to eat whatever I made for dinner. She went hungry for a few days but soon gave into eating. The funny thing was that she actually really liked the food once she was forced to eat it :).

Amanda August 26, 2012 at 10:20 am

ooh and it’s gluten-free too! I’ll definitely have to try it. I’ve used quinoa in mac and cheese before but no squash or cottage cheese. I love both so I know I’d enjoy this.

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) August 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

I love making my dairy free cheesy quinoa loaded with veggies for me, but these guys here are try mac and cheese lovers! This looks and sounds perfect. I too thank Costco for my massive amount of quinoa. I love that store and it’s crazy amount of the good stuff!

I hope you guys are doing well. I think of you often. xoxo

Abby August 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

I was going to say the same thing, as I’m currently eating a big bowl of quinoa, beans, veggies and Daiya. Plus, you know, I think of HEABs often and hope she’s doing well 😉

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Thanks Abby. We are doing well. Hope the same goes for you. 🙂

Maren August 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Sarena – do you have a recipe for that? This sounds soooo good, but I am lactose intolerant! :S

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) August 28, 2012 at 6:34 am

Maren, here’s what I do for a cheesy quinoa casserole http://www.thenondairyqueen.com/2010/05/cheesy-squash-casserole-and-daiyalets.html

It’s really easy to throw together! I hope that helps!

HEAB August 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Just wanted to make sure you got the link to Sarena’s recipe: http://www.thenondairyqueen.com/2010/05/cheesy-squash-casserole-and-daiyalets.html

Maren August 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Thanks Heather, I didn’t see it! So I appreciate that! 🙂 Thanks to Sarena, too!!

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