Cheesy, spicy, creamy, hearty, warm, comforting, and only around 300 calories? Pinch me.
Being a home-grown Buffalo girl, anything with Buffalo chicken flavor is an automatic win in my book. Lately I’ve been daydreaming of a Buffalo Chicken casserole and after considering a pasta bake, I decided to make it a little healthier and use quinoa. For those of you who are only familiar with quinoa from the recent Bud Light commercial (pro-tip: it’s actually pronounced like keen-wah), quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and fiber and is naturally gluten-free. Once cooked it takes on sort of a bubbly appearance which I personally think makes it fun to eat. Quinoa is cooked in a similar manner to rice and can be used in many of the same types of dishes where you might usually use pasta or rice.
This dish was exactly what I had been craving. I used a half cup of wing sauce so mine was plenty spicy, the celery and carrots added little bits of crunch and the protein packed chicken and quinoa made for a very satisfying serving. Plus, it was creamy, cheesy and warm and made perfect comfort food on a cold day. I know y’all are going to ask if you can use ranch dressing instead of blue cheese dressing. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you know the Buffalo girl in me screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” but the food blogger in me says “alright, if you must.” ;)
½ cup light blue cheese dressing (such as Marie’s Chunky Lite or Marzetti Chunky Lite)
1 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 - ½ cup Buffalo Wing sauce (the actual wing sauce, not straight hot sauce) – ½ cup is spicy
10 oz cooked, shredded chicken breast (this is about how much I got from cooking 1 lb raw)
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced celery
3 cups cooked quinoa (about ¾ cup uncooked quinoa makes about 3 cups cooked)
4 oz 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar, shredded (I used Cabot brand)
1 oz crumbled blue cheese
1.Pre-heat the oven to 350.
2.In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, blue cheese dressing, cream cheese and wing sauce and stir to mix. Add the shredded chicken, carrots and celery and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir until well combined.
3.Transfer the quinoa mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish (I used a 7x11, but you can use an 8x8 or 9x9) and spread evenly. Sprinkle the cheddar across the top and follow with the crumbled blue cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until heated through. Turn the oven to broil and move dish to a higher oven rack. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly.
Yields 6 servings. WW P+: 8 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per serving from myfitnesspal.com: 304 calories, 19 g carbs, 13 g fat, 29 g protein, 2 g fiber