As summer comes to a close, the harvest season is heating up. Farmers markets and backyard gardens are full of bright, beautiful colors: green, orange, yellow, red and purple.
In fact, color is an indicator of nutritional content, specifically the phytonutrients that are unique to plant foods. Phytonutrients offer a variety of health benefits including protection from heart disease and cancer. Many of these phytonutrients work as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from damage.
The USDA's ChooseMyPlate recommends we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables every day. Finding easy ways to naturally color our diet is key and having the right ingredients on hand can make a significant nutritional impact.
Here is a recipe that boasts many colors — enjoy!
Tuscan Bean and Veggie Quinoa Casserole
- 1½ cups dry quinoa, washed and drained
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, sliced)
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup parsley, chopped
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup skim milk
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place quinoa in a medium saucepan and combine with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook just until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Sauté garlic, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, and red onion until all vegetables are tender.
- Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
- In a large bowl, combine nearly cooked quinoa, chickpeas, sautéed vegetables, lemon juice and parsley. Stir in milk and mozzarella cheese. Add red pepper flakes, to taste.
- Transfer to a prepared 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove and serve warm. Serves 6.