Spicy Butternut and Quinoa Stuffed Squash

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To make this deliciously nutritious recipe, the first thing that you will need to do is forget how to cook properly and get yourself a glass of wine. My measurements are a bit rough and mostly madeup, so if you know better, than please use your own judgement. I cook to taste and mostly just shake and pinch as I go along and you may prefer more or less of certain spices I use.

Some facts about this dish:

Vegetarian
Low Fat
Serves 2 with filling leftover unless you are a pig like me.

You will need:

1 Butternut squash
Chilli flakes to sprinkle on the squash halves.
A pinch of nutmeg.
A large drizzle of olive oil.
Smoked paprika – just have the jar to hand and we will shake as we go along.
Tin of chopped tomatoes.
1 mashed clove of garlic, though I’m a garlic fiend and will use 2 or 3.
A pinch of salt.
A pinch of pepper.
1 vegetable stock cube.
150g of quinoa.

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh with a sharp knife. This part is probably the most difficult. The seeds will go everywhere and have a fairly slimy coating to them, making them slippery little buggers. Learn from my mistakes and avoid stepping on them on the floor.

After you have hacked at the squash and finished plastering up your fingers, arrange the two halves on a baking tray. Sprinkle on the chilli flakes (just to your taste, I like it HOT), drizzle with a little olive oil, season with ground black pepper, sea salt, garlic, nutmeg a few good shakes of paprika, and cook for about 1 hour or until the squash is nice and, well, squashy.

Whilst the squash is roasting merrily away, start prepping the quinoa. This will take approximately 20 mins to cook, and I would start cooking this roughly 40 mins after the squash has gone in. I don’t think you can overcook the squash really as ideally you want it nice and mushy.

Put the quinoa in a pan, add the chopped tomatoes, a few good shakes of paprika (roughly a tablespoon), a vegetable stock cube, cover with water and bring to the boil. There should be enough to cover the quinoa entirely and then some to allow for the quinoa to expand. You may need to add a little as you go along if it starts to dry out. Once the quinoa is boiling, turn the heat to low and let it cook for around 20 mins.

After about an hour, check to see if the butternuts are suitably squashy and if so take the tray out of the oven and start to spoon their soft innards into a pan. As per the picture, you are looking to make a little squash boat for the squash and quinoa mixture, so take out just enough to mix into the quinoa, but not so much that your boat caves in, like mine. Once the quinoa is cooked (you will know when it’s done because it will look like it has popped open revealing the germ of the kernel) add it into the pan and stir until the squash and quinoa are thoroughly combined. Then spoon the filling onto the butternut squash boat. Job done.

To compliment the sweetness of the squash and the earthy flavours of smoked paprika and nutmeg, I recommend washing the whole thing down with an Off-dry Riesling, which lends it’s charm for tackling high spice and smoky foods and is good for handling big flavours. Ferricrete Riesling 2012 is a cinch at just £12.99 at Marks and Spencer and has the perfect acidity with flavours of lime to cut through the sweetness of the butternut squash and a floral sweetness to compliment the spice.

The music, chosen by Hugh Laurie, is Louisiana 1927, by Randy Newman. The perfect soulful companion to my squash.

Enjoy.

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