Fueling up

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Although I am prone to baking sweet sweet desserts, every so often I do make something savory (and that I actually consume instead of pawn off to coworkers and friends). I thought about bringing this dish to thanksgiving to moderate the carboload, but quickly reconsidered to avoid having to defend quinoa to my entire extended family. Japanese people take their grains very seriously.

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This is a second-hand recipe from 101 Cookbooks, grandfathered from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bittman is more or less a prophet of the plant-based diet, his NTY column his prophecy. Heidi from 101 Cookbooks is also a veg goddess in her own right, and I’ve made many of her recipes to stellar reviews. Her SF-based blog is also an aesthetic inspiration, with great photography that really captures the misty and magical essence of her city.

The butternut squash quinoa bake you see before you is a deliciously hearty vegan recipe that I made entirely with ingredients from my CSA box! Whenever I am able to use 80% of my produce the first week it feels like a major feat… It’s the small things!

photo (5)It’s time to fuel your body well in these final weeks of the year! Your body will thank you after you’ve wrecked havoc on it with a champagne diet on NYE, which is a completely acceptable social diet when you’re used to spinach, quinoa and kale the rest of the year, right? RIGHT??

Mark Bittman’s Autumn Quinoa Bake
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup quinoa (Bittman and Heidi both use Millet, but I had quinoa on hand)
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (learn to appropriately cut a butternut squash here)
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
1 tablespoon minced thyme and/or rosemary
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the quinoa. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed water (or stock) over all. Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes. (Don’t forget to cover! I did the first time and needed to add a lot of water to make up for the dryness)

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (hs note: drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like).

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