Quinoa w/ Butternut Squash and Kale

During the fall season, squash is everwhere to be seen AND it’s cheap. This recipe was made over Thanksgiving but  it can be used as a main dish (if vegetarian) or a great side dish if not. It’s full of kale, walnuts, quinoa, butternut squash. Kale is not only low calorie, but has zero fat and is rich in fiber (along with quinoa). You will feel full without the bloated feeling that most rice dishes can give you.

Give it a try!

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups quinoa (I like a mixture of red and white quinoa for color)
1 bay leaf
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ribs celery, diced
2 medium leeks,  washed and chopped 
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
3 ounces curly kale, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 – 2 teaspoons fresh sage or thyme, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Directions:

Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions, substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the liquid called for in the instructions and adding the bay leaf to the pot with the liquid prior to cooking. Discard the bay leaf after cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and adjust rack to middle position.

Toss squash with coconut oil, whole cane sugar, and salt. Spread the pieces evenly in a baking dish and cover with foil. Roast for 15 minutes, remove foil and then roast for an additional 20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium to large cast iron skillet or saute pan add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the celery and saute for 2 – 3 minutes, until slightly tender. Add the leeks and saute an additional 2 – 3 minutes, until the leeks and celery are tender and fragrant. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the chopped kale and saute over low heat just until the kale has wilted.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, vegetables from the saute pan, cranberries, fresh parsley and your choice of thyme or sage. Stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, top with 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts, if desired.

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