Chicken, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Casserole

When winter brings its A game, I turn to soups, stews, and casseroles. Casseroles in particular are a wonderful way to get dinner on the table in a single dish and warm the home with a toasty oven that makes your home smell of your favorite things.

This casserole blends chicken, sweet potatoes, and quinoa to make a meal that's ideal for cold weather. And, near the end of the process, fresh spinach and tangy blue cheese brighten it a bit to make it a meal your family will request again and again. If you don't have either of those things, you can substitute other hearty greens (think kale or collard greens) and strong cheeses (think goat cheese or sharp cheddar) or even skip them entirely. It's up to you.

For this dish, consider just pouring a glass of wine and digging in. After all, part of comfort food is keeping things simple and that's exactly what we're doing here.

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Casserole

  • 1 lb. cubed, peeled sweet potatoes
  • 3 T. water
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 ½ c. quinoa
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ c. packed spinach leaves
  • ½ c. crumbled blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Place the sweet potatoes and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pierce a few holes in the top with a fork. Microwave the sweet potatoes on High for 4 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into 1-inch strips and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, quinoa, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in the sweet potatoes and chicken.

Cover the skillet with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven. Uncover the casserole and stir in the spinach and sprinkle with the blue cheese. Return the skillet, uncovered, to the oven long enough for the cheese to melt and bubble, about 5 minutes. Allow the skillet to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour