Squash and Grains

I don't know about you but my online bookmarks on my internet browser are FILLED with recipes. Any time I see something that sounds like it might be worth cooking on a blog, or a newspaper or magazine, or on the many recipe databases out there, I'll bookmark it. It's a great way to store up ideas when you're feeling bored with your cookbooks or familiar favorite dishes that you make all the time. Lately, a lot of the recipes I've bookmarked have come from the Guardian. not only is it a great newspaper, it also happens to publish meal ideas from some of my favorite chefs such as Nigel Slater or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And in fact, hugh inspired me in a recent article to make the dish you'll find below. I am a lover of grain salads, especially warm ones. Not really worth calling it a "salad" as that makes us think of something involving lettuce and tomatoes and not a lot of excitement. But this warm squash & quinoa salad, based loosely on Hugh's couscous version, is just the thing to comfort you on a February evening.

There's nothing "salad-y" about this, yet it still qualifies as health food in my book. Why? Because it's all there. Protein? Check. Unrefined starches? Check. Healthy fats? Check. Fresh greens? Check. For an added protein bonus, I had a few slices of goat's cheese on top before tucking in, or feta would work well too. The only note I'd make here is to roast your butternut squash for long enough. This isn't a fast meal, since squash takes the better part of an hour to soften up nicely in the oven. Still, it is worth the wait!

Warm Squash & Quinoa Salad

Based on a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the Guardian

The particulars:

  • 1 large or 2 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • handful fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  1. Heat the oven to 375F. Toss the chopped up squash in a roasting tin with some of the olive oil, red chili, cumin, and some salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven and cook for 45 minutes, or until the squash is lightly browning on the edges.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds by placing them in a dry frying pan and cooking over a medium heat for a few minutes, tossing occasionally. Set aside.
  3. At the same time, cook the quinoa according to packet instructions (usually with twice the amount of water for about 12-15 minutes).
  4. Once everything is cooked and ready, combine the squash, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl along with the raisins, parsley, dill, vinegar, and the rest of the olive oil. Add seasoning if desired. For added protein, serve with a few pieces of goat's cheese or feta.