LAURA BRYN SISSON/The Dartmouth StaffButternut squash constitutes a huge fraction of my culinary repertoire — partially because I first learned to cook in the Sustainable Living Center, which prioritizes local foods, and few foods are local in the winter other than root vegetables and dairy. There are many delicious ways to prepare butternut squash — my usual is sliced into bite-sized chunks, and oven-roasted with potatoes and beets in olive oil and rosemary. Butternut squash can also be pureed into soup, but I don’t have a blender.
But in today’s recipe, you get a double reward. I’ll let you in on both the secret of butternut squash and the secret grain to which you’ll become quite well acquainted if you keep reading this column. The secret is quinoa — if you’ve never flirted with someone by teaching him or her how to pronounce quinoa, you definitely should. (It’s keen-wah.)
Quinoa has 14 grams of protein per serving, nearly twice as much as most protein bars, which is ideal for vegetarians. And quinoa’s a delicious, interesting alternative to pasta. Its flavor is nuanced and nutty, while its cooked texture is a cross between that of wild rice and couscous. The possibilities are endless for quinoa — add any vegetable or cheese, and it’ll be delicious. I also recommend cooking it in broth or adding residual bacon grease or poultry drippings to add to the flavor.
Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Parmesan (4 servings)
1 cup quinoa (yields 4 cups cooked)
3 cups water or broth
1/2 butternut squash (save the rest for roasting)
1/2 cup parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
Put water or broth on to boil in a saucepan. Peel and dice the butternut squash. Be warned: peeling the squash will take a long time (20 minutes for me). It’s difficult to peel squash. If you’re roasting squash, peeling isn’t necessary, but for this recipe it is. Separate the bulb of the squash from the stem—this will make dicing easier. If you’re making the quantities in the recipe, set aside half of the squash for another, future recipe, or roast it. Otherwise, use the whole squash and double all other ingredients. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard, as you would with a pumpkin. Dice the flesh of the squash into very small pieces — the smaller the pieces, the shorter time it will take to cook. Add the quinoa, diced squash and butter to the boiling water. Reduce heat to just below medium, so you can see the holes the bubbles make in the porridge-y mixture. Cook for 30 minutes or until both quinoa and squash are firm but tender. Season with salt and pepper, and grate in parmesan cheese to taste.
Tags: food, Laura Bryn Sisson, local, off campus kitchen, squash