There’s just something wonderful and inviting about this time of year. The weather is just starting to get that crisp Fall chill to it, beckoning all of its victims to add another layer or two. It’s when the hubs and I begin our ritual herbal tea and cider drinking and spend our precious Sundays snuggled up with stacks and stacks of books. I am nearly giddy while adding Butternut and Acorn squash to my grocery cart, dreaming up all the wonderful ways I will pay tribute to their golden goodness this season. And of course who can ignore the glowing orange pumpkins that seem to be everywhere you turn. So with all of the tastes, color, and textures as my inspiration, I dreamed up this little creation, I call it the Harvest Quinoa Bake. I first made a variation of this for a friend’s birthday potluck (which is a genius idea for a Fall b-day) mostly on a whim and because everyone enjoyed it so much I decided to try to re-create it using some of this seasons delicious varieties of squash. This recipe sounds much more laborious than it really is, let me assure you that after you get through the peeling and hacking of squash it becomes quite simple. So try it out and let me know what you think!
Harvest Quinoa Bake
Note: A common problem I find with Quinoa is how to enhance its flavor and keep it from being bland. The method I use slightly toasts the grain in an onion infused olive oil, giving it a deeper and aromatic nutty flavor. This takes a bit of extra time but is well worth the effort. All of the vegetables can be prepped/chopped ahead of time to reduce the cooking time.– 2-3 c. Butternut squash (about 1/3 of whole squash) – 1 sweet potato – 1/2 Summer squash (yellow variety) – 1/2 yellow bell pepper – 1 carrot – 1/2 large Granny Smith apple – 1 small bunch fresh parsley – 1/2 yellow onion – 2 c. Quinoa – extra virgin olive oil – 3-4 c. or less freshly grated Parmesan
– 1/2 c. Feta – handful dried cranberries – spices: several sprigs of fresh (or dried) Rosemary, dried Thyme, Sea salt & cracked pepper
With a cleaver (or other very sharp heavy knife) chop off the top third of the Butternut squash, remove seeds if any, and then peel skin with a vegetable peeler. Once peeled, cut squash into 1 inch cubes.
Peel sweet potato, and cut into 1 inch cubes as well. Toss Butternut squash and sweet potato in a small bit of olive oil and arrange on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with generous amounts of Rosemary, Thyme, and sea salt and bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked and slightly crispy on the edges.
finely dice the onion and parsley, and coarsely chop the yellow squash, bell pepper, carrot & apple. Set aside, but do not mix together.
3) In a medium-sized pot, saute the onion in a small amount of olive oil till softened and translucent. Add in the Quinoa and allow to toast for about 30 seconds, then add 3 c. hot water to the pot and bring to a boil. When water comes to a rapid boil, lower the heat and allow Quinoa to simmer (much like you would steam rice).
Meanwhile… in another deep skillet or pot saute the remaining vegetables and apples in a small bit of olive oil. When they are almost cooked, stir in the parsley and cook for a few seconds until wilted yet still bright green.
4) In a 9×12 casserole dish layer the cooked Quinoa and onion, next add the sautéed vegetables & parsley, then the roasted Butternut squash & sweet potato, and finally top with Feta, Parmesan, & cranberries. Salt & pepper and bake for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.