Food & Drink Magazine

(No) Cheese Quinoa Barley Bake

By Msadams @HilaryFerrell

Most people get excited to have a day off because they get to sleep.  I, on the other hand, get excited to have a day off because it means I get extra time to experiment with dinner (which usually turns out much better when I have a good night of sleep—so I guess I get excited for both).

During the week, I don’t have time to experiment.  I have a set menu of recipes and I stick to them like glue.  It’s the only way that I can ensure that we eat healthy and eat before 8 o’clock (since this old lady hits the sack around 8:30, a 8 o’clock dinner is just not gonna happen…like ever).

So being that we had Monday off, I was excited to experiment with a (no) cheese recipe I had been developing.  Not that we are anti-cheese around these parts but I wanted to try to make something that reminded us of the comfort of mac and cheese but was a little more forgiving on our hearts and waistline.

There are lots of ways to mimic cheese out there but I thought that a blend of spices, nutritional yeast, and tahini would provide a complete, well rounded flavor.  Boy, did it knock my socks right off.  I went to taste a little bite off of the corner of my casserole dish to ensure that the grains had thoroughly cooked through and ended up eating a pretty sizable hole.  This, of course, was before I could take any pictures so I had to hide the gaping hole with extra breadcrumbs.  In other words, ignore that hole in the back of my large casserole dish—it was a kitchen casualty.  Or perhaps it proves that (no) cheese makes everything better.

No Cheese Barley Quinoa Bake 650x586 (No) Cheese Quinoa Barley Bake


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 ounce can of green chiles
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350.

Start by melting your margarine in a sauté pan over medium high heat and then add your green chiles and onions to sauté for 5 minutes.

Now whisk in nutritional yeast and flour.

Add in non-dairy milk and tahini, whisk again.

Add in spices (mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, and any salt and pepper) and whisk again.

Bring mixture to a boil.

Stir in quinoa and barley, then immediately turn off the burner.

Pour mixture into a casserole dish that’s been coated with non-stick spray.

Sprinkle the top of the mixture with your breadcrumbs.

Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.

IMG 0086 442x600 (No) Cheese Quinoa Barley Bake

If you aren’t big on barley, you can use all quinoa instead.  I like the mixture of both because the quinoa brings some bulk to the (no) cheese sauce, while the barley gives the dish the perfect crunch.

IMG 0088 650x433 (No) Cheese Quinoa Barley Bake

And don’t be afraid of the green chiles.  After baking in the sauce, they turn into a sweet little surprise in every bite.  Definitely key to bringing the flavor full circle from savory to crunchy to sweet.

Yum, I seriously can’t wait to make this dish again.

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