Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quinoa with Roasted Acorn Squash

If you've been a reader of my blog then you know a couple things about me. First, I like to try new recipes. Second, I am a firm believer of using what you have at home. Today's recipe was a total experiment on my part. It could have easily bombed. Fortunately, it was delicious! My whole family liked it and it will be added to my regular recipe rotation.

Quinoa is something I haven't cooked before. I hadn't even heard of it until I was pregnant with my 2nd and my crazy preggo hormones wouldn't allow me to eat meat. My doc suggested it as a way to get extra protein in my diet. I've seen some delicious recipes using quinoa, but hadn't tried any. To top it off, the local grocery store sold it for an outrageous price and my regular grocery store was constantly out of it. I finally made a stop at a different locally owned store and bought a box (for a reasonable price) to try at home.

I wanted to use up some of the veggies I had in my freezer. I got some lovely acorn squash in my Bountiful Basket a while back. We didn't eat all of it, so I peeled and diced what was left and froze it. I thought that would be a nice flavor to add to the quinoa. That's where I started. Here's how it turned out:

Hello deliciousness! Here's my recipe:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 nice-sized handfuls of greens, chopped (more on this later)
2 tomatoes, diced
parmesan cheese
sunflower seeds or pine nuts
olive oil
other seasoning (more on this to come)
First, heat your oven to 325 degrees. Put the squash in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat. Season with salt, pepper and other seasoning. I used NoMU Smokey Peri-Peri rub because I LOVE the flavor. The nutty sweetness of the squash with a touch of smokey heat was awesome. I have a local specialty food store that sells it (Check out Olivelle) or you can order on Amazon, too. Roast your squash for 45-60 minutes until soft. The time will depend on how big your cubes are. Turn off the oven and let sit inside to keep warm.

When the squash has been in the oven about 30 minutes, start making the quinoa. I recently made some homemade chicken stock that I wanted to use. The flavor is amazing and there's very little sodium and no preservatives. Hooray! Heat the stock until boiling, add the quinoa and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the outside of the grain becomes transparent and you can see the little "seed" in the center of the grain and the liquid is absorbed.

As you are making the quinoa, add a little olive oil to a skillet and saute the garlic and onion until soft. Add the greens to wilt them a bit. I happened to use red lettuce, spinach and some swiss chard all from my garden. I liked the variety of the texture and flavors, but again, use what you have! Once the greens are wilted, add the squash and warm through.

Your quinoa should be about done at this time. Combine the veggies and the quinoa in a bowl and mix well. Toss with some freshly shredded parmesan cheese. Serve with diced tomatoes and some sunflower seeds or pine nuts. I would have preferred pine nuts, but we just had the sunflower seeds on hand.

The flavors in this dish were great! I added the fresh tomatoes to keep it lighter for summer. You can use this recipe as a framework to make some changes and create your own dish. Try butternut squash or use a summer squash and zucchini. Try feta or goat cheese for a tangy flavor, or use an aged gouda to increase the nuttiness. Add a jalepeno for some heat and use cilantro for greens. Be creative! Have fun! Bon Appetit!

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