I for one am finding myself chilled to the bone on these cold winter’s nights, and after a long day, there is nothing better to come home to than a bowl of something warming, delicious and comforting. Continuing on the quinoa theme, I wanted to make a dish that puts a little heat in my belly and a smile on my face, and what better way to do that than with a bowl of fiery, sweet and nutty Spiced Quinoa with Butternut Squash.
I have used red quinoa for this recipe because of its slightly nutty taste and texture, plus, the colours of the rich, red quinoa and the zingy, orange squash look wonderfully inspiring when together. There is no real difference between red quinoa and its plainer counterpart; the cooking time is approximately the same, maybe a few minutes more for red quinoa and, like the paler variety, it needs a good dose of stock for flavour. Here, the nutty quinoa mingles with sweet, roasted butternut squash in an intense blend of harissa spices; while dried apricots and toasted, flaked almonds add a fruity undertone and added bite respectively. You can find harissa paste in many supermarkets and certainly any specialist shops, but if you would like to make your own you can find my simple recipe for it under my Butternut Squash Tagine post.
I like to serve this as a vegetarian lunch or supper, perhaps with a large green salad and a dollop of hoummous, or even some roasted peppers and fennel. It also works very well as an accompaniment to roasted meats, in particular lamb or chicken. However you serve it, this dish is guaranteed to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night.
SPICED QUINOA WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH
1 small butternut squash
1 large red onion
1 cup of red quinoa
2 cups of vegetable stock
100g dried apricots
50g flaked almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp harissa paste
A small bunch of coriander
Preheat the oven to 200c (180c Fan). Place the flaked almonds on a baking tray and toast until golden. Chop the dried apricots in to small pieces and finely chop the coriander, then peel and roughly chop the red onion. Peel the butternut squash, scoop out its seeds and chop in to small cubes, approximately 1cm in size. Combine the onion and squash in a roasting tray, pour over the olive oil, season, add the harissa paste and mix thoroughly so that everything is well coated. Cook in the oven for 35 minutes or until roasted and tender.
Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a saucepan and cover with the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to the boil, once boiling turn the heat down to its lowest setting and, keeping covered, simmer gently for 15 - 20 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed.
Once the quinoa is cooked through, fluff up with a fork and tip in to a large mixing bowl; add the roasted squash, onions, toasted almonds, apricots and coriander. Mix together until thoroughly combined and serve while warm.