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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Comfort Food : Health Food -- Oxymoron??

Not when that comfort food is Quinoa and Winter Squash Bake! 



Amazingly, it has completely, totally, firmly, and bodaciously kicked mac 'n cheeze's butt on my list of favorite comfort foods.  (Truth Alert:  Mac 'n Cheeze is STILL on the list, but rice pasta has taken some of the comfort out of it.)  I came across this recipe on my favorite cooking blog - The Kitchn.  And then I came across my giant Sweet Meat Squash, squatting there in my root cellar (aka the guest room closet).  And that behemoth was developing a soft spot - HORRORS!!!!  Karma?  Kismet?  I think yes.

I lopped off half the squash, cut out the soft spot, and still had over two pounds of diced squash.

(Slight Aside)  This was the first time I have grown Sweet Meat squash and just put one plant in.  It gifted me with two squash - a large and a ginormous.  After tasting this squash, I may plant my entire garden in it.  And red Kuri.

(Back on subject)  In the process of making the dish, I discovered my new favorite food:  roasted squash.  I have had it on salads, by itself, tossed with EVO, salt and pepper.  I could live on the stuff - and given the leftover portion of my ginormo squash, I just may for a month or so.



Here, for your viewing, reading, eating pleasure, is the recipe:

Quinoa & Winter Squash Bake
from The Kitchn
Serves 8
(My notes/changes/comments in italics)

1-1/2 lbs butternut or other winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 T olive oil (plus more for brushing on the top)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 T ground flax seeds (I had flaxseed meal and used that)
1/2 cup + 1T water
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used four because I could...)
1 tsp each, finely chopped fresh marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme  (Not surprisingly, this being  December, I did NOT have fresh herbs - so I used a half tsp each marjoram, sage & thyme.  I did have a potted rosemary plant, so used fresh.)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups cooked quinoa (they recommend cooking it in vege broth, but I had turkey broth so used that.)
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
3 T currants or chopped dried cranberries (I used cranberries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss cubed squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in oven until tender, about 30 minutes.  Turn halfway through.  Remove from oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.

Combine flax and water in a medium bowl and stir with a fork until thickened.  Mash half of the squash using a fork or food processor.  Add the mashed squash to the flax mixture and stir to combine well.  Set aside.
(I just mashed it in the same bowl with the flax, as I am the only one here that washes dishes...)

Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add quinoa and mashed squash/flax mixture to the onions, along with the paprika, nutmeg, 2 tsp of salt (don't skip) and a few (dozen) cracks of pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Add remaining cubed squash, pumpkin seeds and currants/cranberries and stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings if needed. 

Transfer mixture to a greased 9-inch pie plate or similar sized oven proof dish.  Press down firmly and evenly and brush top with a little olive oil.  Bake until set and edges are browned, about 40 mins.  Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.  Leftovers will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.

Comfort food, baby, comfort food!

14 comments:

  1. Now I must try growing quinoa because that looks exactly like my kind of food! Comfort or otherwise, LOL. For a second I was worried you wouldn't share the recipe, but you did! Thank you.

    I also wanted to invite you to my blog to see what I'm excited about! And may entice you to enter my book giveaway (?) :)

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    1. Leigh - How exciting! Of COURSE I will enter - and if I don't win, I will buy one anyway -- have been waiting for a while for this book!!!

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  2. That looks so healthy (and good). I will have to print this for next seasons squash. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Kristina - At first I thought it sounded bland - but cooking the herbs in the olive oil with the onions really seemed to give it a kick!

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    1. Michelle - Oh, yes you will! I'm going to try it the next time with home dried currants and vege broth.

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  4. I've recently gone gluten free. I think I should have done this years ago as much of the brain fog has cleared not to mention improvements in other bodily functions. Now I'm on on the hunt for replacements of old favourites. I've just about got over withdrawal symptoms for cake but Christmas will be the real test.

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    1. Susan - Bread was the hardest thing I had to give up. Because GF bread is not bread. Period. But I've adapted pretty well - I would highly recommend Gluten Free Mama's Almond Flour Blend for baking. A lot of the other 'flours' have either a gritty feel (rice) or an odd taste (bean).

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  5. Oh this sounds so delicious I would try it. Yummy. B

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    1. Buttons - You should! And let me know if you like it.

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  6. Sweet Meat Squash, huh? I've never heard of it before, but it looks a lot like Red Kuri squash. (Boo-hoo, my beloved Red Kuri that didn't give me even one edible squash this year. Baaaad year for pumpkins and squash up here in these parts.) The recipe sounds so intriguing, and I value your recommendation so I may just have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Mama Pea - You were the one who sent me in the direction of the Red Kuri. You didn't have ONE? Oooh, that is so awful! I got three. I think you would like the sweet meat - it is a solid squash - LOTS of 'meat'. Let's hope this next year is a better year for us gardeners.

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  7. From an EX Mac and Cheese addict...this is an incredible recipe. I used Hubbard squash and it turned out well enough Ralph asked me if there was any left to take in his lunch for work. He had eaten half the bake for supper! It really does beat Mac and Cheese! Thank you!

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    1. Fiona - Yay!!!! I love Hubbard squash but have yet to be successful in growing it. I have limited squash-growing space so usually try two new types each year. However, I think I will repeat my Kuri/Sweet Meat. Why mess with success...

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