Spring is finally peeking around the corner here in the north. I thought I saw the faintest tinge of green along a ditch yesterday – and then in typical northern Alberta spring style, it’s been snowing all day today!
There’s not much colour around here yet, but I’m guessing the Easter Bunny is busily painting eggs day and night right about now. Maybe this year he’ll even get to hide some of them outside, if the snow melts by Sunday.
I love this time of year – it’s all about hope. Hope for the soft greens of spring to arrive. Hope for the warmth of the sun shining on my face. Hope for the thrill of digging deep into the soft soil of the garden soon.
I know that January is all set up for new starts and making resolutions and all the hoopla that goes with the beginning of a new year. But really, for us here in northern Alberta, January is just another cold day deep in the middle of winter. In the dark of winter it’s too easy to sink back into hibernating lethargy. I think spring is truly the time to make resolutions and plans for changes in our lives.
Right now – with Spring dawning in the air – I feel charged with energy and an eagerness to move ahead.
And the Easter weekend ahead means special time with family, wonderful foods, and a bounty of leftovers.
So, what do you do with all those leftover coloured eggs the Easter Bunny hid around your house and yard? (And maybe bits off that chunk of ham from the Easter feast.)
Turn them into dinner!
Transform something old into something new, and celebrate the coming spring weather with a luscious, creamy bake of healthy quinoa, protein rich boiled eggs and ham, snuggled up with a tangy, mustardy sauce and a kiss of flavourful cheese.
And make a Spring Resolution!
Kitchen Frau Notes: This dish makes great use of the leftover Easter Eggs and the ham from your Easter dinner. But if you feasted on turkey or lamb, use that – just add another half teaspoon salt to the sauce, since turkey doesn’t have the saltiness of ham. Or omit the meat altogether and toss in frozen peas or other leftover vegetables instead.
Brown rice or white rice will work well as substitutes for the quinoa. Here’s a handy tutorial on how to cook quinoa.
I like to use sharp, or extra-old, cheddar since the strong flavour means I only need to use a small amount. The one cup called for in this recipe adds plenty of cheesiness.
Creamy Mustard, Egg and Quinoa Bake
- 4 – 5 cups (1-1.2 litres) cooked quinoa or rice (how to cook quinoa here)
- 8 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 cup (240ml/100gms) grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (240ml/150gms) diced ham, cooked meat, or vegetables
- ½ cup (120ml) chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
For the Mustard Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (or all purpose flour)
2 cups (480ml) milk
4 tablespoons (¼cup/60ml) Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt if using ham, 1 teaspoon salt if using other meat or vegetables
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Grease a 9″x13″ pan with butter or oil.
Cook the quinoa and let it cool.
Cook the eggs and let them cool. Peel the eggs and cut them in halves lengthwise.
When cool, mix the quinoa with the diced ham, half of the grated cheese, and the chopped parsley.
Spread it evenly into the greased pan. Nestle the egg halves into the quinoa, wiggling them down into the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the Mustard Cream Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the diced onion and cook until the onion is translucent – about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until it coats the onions. Add the milk, about ¼ cup (60ml) at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition until the sauce is bubbling and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. The mustard will thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick to pour easily, add a few tablespoons more milk or water to thin it out.
Pour the Mustard Cream Sauce over the eggs and quinoa. Gently spread it out to the edges of the pan with a spatula. Sprinkle on the remaining half cup of grated cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and brown around the edges.
Before serving, sprinkle the top with a small handful chopped parsley.
Serve with steamed vegetables or a green salad.
Serves 5 to 6.
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