This healthy enchilada quinoa bake features shrimp, poblanos and loads of flavor. It can easily be prepped in stages – making it perfect for busy weeknights – and it’s also freezer-friendly!
I love this dish because it comes together extremely quickly if you do just a couple of easy meal prep steps in advance. Cooked quinoa is always a good meal prep item to have on hand, and if you haven’t experimented with cashew cream yet, now’s the time to do it! I love it so much as a healthier “cream sauce” alternative, so much so that I’ve basically started using it in every recipe that it would be acceptable in. (See these Healthier Chicken Pot Pie Pockets, this Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole and this Curry Gnocchi with White Lamb Bolognese, for example.)
Once you have the dish assembled (which you can also do in advance) it takes just 15 minutes to cook. That’s the perfect weeknight meal if you ask me!
Why This Recipe Works
- It features all of the important food groups – protein, whole grains, vegetables, dairy – which means there’s no need to make any sort of side dishes to go with it.
- Almost all of the components can be prepped in advance – the quinoa, the cashew cream, the peppers, the spice mix. Even the dish itself can be assembled and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.
- Once you have everything assembled, the bake takes just 15 minutes to cook in the oven.
- It’s a great freezer meal to have on hand on nights you don’t want to cook!
Ingredients You’ll Need
I’ve broken down the ingredients into three groups here, based on the different prep steps you can take when making the dish:
One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make so many things in advance.
Quinoa + Vegetable Broth – You can cook your quinoa (using the vegetable broth for extra flavor) up to three days in advance of making this dish. Be sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking it for easier digestion!
Cashews + Nutritional Yeast – These – along with salt and water – are the only two ingredients you’ll need to make the delicious cashew cream this recipe calls for. You’ll definitely want to plan in advance for this step, as the cashews need to soak in water for at least 4 hours before making the cream. You can find nutritional yeast add your local health food grocer or online here.
Spice Mix – You can make this up to one week in advance and keep it in a resealable plastic bag or small container with lid. It’s a classic Mexican food combo: garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika and chili powder.
Poblano Peppers – Charring the poblano peppers before adding them to your quinoa bake will give everything a fantastic flavor boost. Feel free to do this step up to a few hours in advance.
These are the final pieces you’ll need to make your Enchilada Bake a reality.
Shredded Jack Cheese – Or any shredded cheese that you typically love when making (and enjoying) Mexican food.
Cherry Tomatoes – Find the freshest tomatoes you can for the ultimate pop of flavor!
Shrimp – You’ll want your shrimp to be defrosted, tails removed and chopped into bite-size pieces before adding it to the quinoa bake.
Onion + Garlic – Another way to really boost the flavor of this dish!
Be sure to read all of the instructions before starting on this recipe, as there are some things that need a little time and other things that can be prepared in advance. Here’s your step-by-step guide!
Prep Step #1: Cook your quinoa.
Prep Step #2: Make your cashew cream.
Prep Step #3: Put together your spice mixture.
Prep Step #4: Char your poblano peppers.
Step #5: Combine all of the ingredients (minus the shredded cheese and toppings) in a large mixing bowl, first coating the shrimp in the spice mixture and then adding in everything else.
Step #6: Transfer the mixture into a 3-quart baking dish, top with shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes. If you like a little browning on your cheese, turn on the broiler for 3-5 minutes after the 15 minutes is up.
All of it! You can make each of the separate components (like the quinoa, cashew cream, spice mix and charred peppers) earlier on, and you can even assemble the dish (minus the toppings) ahead of time, storing it covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.
This dish is considered a “complete meal,” so no need to serve anything else with it. That being said, it certainly wouldn’t fight with some of your favorite tortillas or tortilla chips!
Absolutely. Just omit the shrimp, but be sure to still use the seasoning mixture.
Yes, it is. If freezing this dish, pay attention to how much you will likely want to defrost at a time and break it into those serving sizes before freezing. For example, if you want individual servings to pack for lunches, freeze them that way. If there’s only two in your family but you have four servings as leftovers, split them in half before freezing.
More Easy Weeknight Meals
Looking for more inspiration when it comes to simple weeknight meals for the family? Check out these recipes!
Tried this recipe and loved it?? Be sure to leave a comment and five-star rating in the recipe card below!
Healthy Shrimp and Poblano Enchilada Quinoa Bake
For the quinoa:
- 1 1/4 cup dry quinoa
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or stock
For the cashew cream:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
For the quinoa bake:
- 2 poblano (or pasilla) peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Dash of pepper, plus more to taste
- 10 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed and cut in half (if large)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 of an onion, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Jack cheese
- Cilantro and avocado, for garnish
- Soak cashews in water overnight at least one night before you plan to make the quinoa bake. The next morning, drain the cashews and add them to a blender with the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. Puree until a smooth cream forms and set aside.
- You can also prepare the quinoa one day (or more) in advance of making the dish. Simply add the quinoa and vegetable stock to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa.
- Once you have the cashew cream and quinoa prepped, the rest of the meal will come together in a flash. Using a gas grill or stovetop, hold each pepper with a pair of metal tongs and place over a medium flame until the skin is nicely charred. Remove from heat and destem and chop into bite-size pieces once cool enough to touch. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt and dash of pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and get out a 3-quart baking dish.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the shrimp with the prepared seasoning blend, then add the cooked quinoa, charred peppers, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Finally, add the entire batch of cashew cream you prepared in advance. Stir to combine.
- Transfer quinoa mixture to the 3-quart baking dish and top with shredded Jack cheese. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced avocado and enjoy!
- You can prep most of the individual components of this meal (like the quinoa, cashew cream, spice mix and poblano peppers) a few days to a few hours in advance of making the dish.
- You can also assemble the dish itself well in advance and store it covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it.
- This meal is freezer-friendly, just be sure to store it in whatever serving sizes you’re likely to want to reheat it as later on. If freezing, this dish is best stored in glass containers with lids.