Creamy butternut squash, quinoa and spinach recipe

The blend of squash, spinach and coconut oil gives this dish a nice balance

When asked to create a dish for the Food Wise booth at the CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, I looked to the availability of what was fresh that week for inspiration. There were plenty of greens, squashes and brussel sprouts as well as tomatoes and eggplant. Well, the squash and greens won me over, especially considering the time of year. So, I added a little of this and a little of that to create this recipe.

When I say it’s easy, I mean it. Once you have the squash roasted and the quinoa made, it’s just a matter of preferences and what is in the house. Here are the main components:

  • Roasted squash with onion and garlic (use any squash or even sweet potato)
  • Cooked quinoa (but you could use rice or pasta but the quinoa has more nutrition)
  • Nuts (I’ve used toasted sliced almonds as well as chopped roasted and salted pistachios)
  • Dried fruit (for example, cranberries or raisins; pomegranate would be good as well)
  • Cooked green (I loved using spinach but chard or dino kale would work, too)
  • Coconut oil (just a little added a nice balance between the squash and the green; you could use coconut milk instead of the cream)
  • Goat cheese (I love the tanginess to offset the sweet; see the vegan option below)
  • Cream (just a touch to make it…creamy!)

I can usually judge a dish by how quickly we run out and, what I like to call the “umm”-factor. When people make that yummy noise out loud, I can tell it’s a home run. So maybe this fall, instead of a standard dish you make all of the time, try this one. It’s healthy, easy and tasty (and also gluten-free). Enjoy!

Butternut Squash, Quinoa and Spinach

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbl olive oil
¼ tsp ground pepper
2 pinches of sea salt
2-3 garlic gloves, minced
1/2 c chopped nuts (sliced almond, pine or walnut; you can use pistachio as well but do not toast)
1 c red or white quinoa
2 c vegetable broth
2 tsp coconut oil
2 c fresh spinach, washed and chopped (or 1 pkg frozen, defrosted and squeezed dry)
1/2 c dried cranberries
1-2 Tbl heavy cream
4 oz goat cheese
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

This recipe has 4 steps: roast the squash and onion, toast the nuts, cook the quinoa and spinach and mix everything together.

  1. Toss squash and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and squash is softened. Add garlic for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool slightly.
  2. While that roasts, prepare the other ingredients. Toast nuts in a pan until golden brown. Cool.
  3. Rinse quinoa if it has not been rinsed already, add to a pot with vegetable broth, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook covered about 15-18 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Add coconut oil (if you add it while the quinoa is hot, the coconut oil will melt). If you are using raw spinach, add to the quinoa once it has finished cooking. If you are using cooked spinach, add with the other ingredients.
  4. Cool quinoa for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Combine quinoa, roasted squash and onion, nuts, cranberries, cream and goat cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Vegan option: omit cream and goat cheese. Replace with 1/2 c coconut milk and 1/2 tsp additional sea salt.

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