There is a set of common wisdom that claims that from an evolutionary standpoint we should be eating foods which are native and in season to our climates. Now, for me that would exclude all citrus, avocados, and certainly kiwi fruit. That just isn’t going to happen. However, that doesn’t mean that sometimes, just sometimes, a wonderful recipe can be made in the dead of winter with locally available and seasonal produce.
This warm quinoa recipe screams colder weather. The rusty specks of almond and squash with the crunchy pieces of sage looks a bit like the yard at the end of November with fallen leaves dotted on sleeping plants.
But seriously, couldn’t we all use a nice warm quinoa salad in these colder months? One that is chock full of vegetables and contrasted with lovely chewy dots of quinoa? Try this recipe, it doesn’t disappoint and it reheats quite well.
Winter Quinoa Recipe with Squash, Pears and Almonds(serves 4)
Heat your oven to 400F. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove seeds. Chop squash into approximately 1cm cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Spread onto a cookie sheet and put in the oven, this should take about 20 minutes to roast the squash, set a timer and toss halfway through. While the oven is on put your almonds on a tray and toast in the oven. You want to toast them until they are fragrant but not burnt. Try putting them in for at most 3 minutes at a time. After each interval check them and toss them, they should be done in 6-8 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the quinoa. Combine quinoa and water along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small pot, bring to a boil, cover and turn to low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 5 before fluffing.
Peel your pear. Cut it in half and remove the core and fibrous stem. Slice thinly (about 1/4″). In a medium skillet melt butter over medium heat and fry sage leaves until browned. Do not let the butter burn. Adjust the heat accordingly. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel and then add pears along with a pinch of salt. Toss pears over medium heat to sauté them until they soften, about 5 minutes.
Juice the lemon and whisk together with the Dijon as well as the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Fold dressing into warm quinoa along with pears, squash, and almonds. Serve topped with squash leaves.