Most people don’t think of caprese – that classic Italian salad composed of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil – in the dead of winter. So why a Gluten Free Caprese Casserole Recipe right now? Let me explain.
When the days are cold and dreary, it’s nice to have a little reminder of the warm and carefree days of summer. And while tomatoes are not exactly at their best right now, cooking them in the oven brings out the flavor and sweetness even when they are under-ripe. And using cherry tomatoes provides this burst of juiciness and flavor.
You can always get fresh mozzarella, no matter what time of year, and in this day and age, fresh basil is available even in the deadest of winter.
I used quinoa as a base for this casserole; it felt like a healthy choice while still providing the heartiness one desires in a winter casserole. The fire-roasted canned tomatoes I use in this recipe are for added flavor but if you can’t find them, regular canned tomatoes will work just fine. I topped the whole thing off with some Kinnikinnick gluten free panko-style crumbs mixed with some Parmesan cheese for a crispy top.
For the quinoa, you need about 3 cups cooked. Recently I have taken to cooking mine in a rice cooker. This has changed my life! Seriously, for under $20 you can get a decent rice cooker. You just add your quinoa and water, push a button, and forget about it. I can do it in the morning before leaving the house but even if I don’t think that far ahead, it only takes about 15 minutes to make quinoa in the rice cooker from start to finish.
This gluten free caprese casserole recipe is like a little bit of summer on your plate, even if it is 10 below outside. And it can be ready in just over half an hour – an added bonus!
Gluten Free Caprese Casserole Recipe
1 cup pre-rinsed quinoa
2 cups water
Kosher or fine sea salt
Gluten free non-stick cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white or yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped or cut into thin ribbons
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup Kinnikinnick gluten free panko breadcrumbs
Cook the quinoa in salted water according to the package directions.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 12 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the vegetables; cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the canned tomatoes along with their juices, the Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese and cook, stirring just until heated through. Take off the heat and stir in the cooked quinoa, half the tomatoes, and half the basil. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with the sliced mozzarella and the rest of the tomatoes.
Combine the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan with the panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole, spray with more cooking spray, and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown. Sprinkle with the rest of the basil and serve.
This Gluten Free Caprese Casserole Recipe serve 6 people.
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