Monday, April 23, 2012

Quinoa and Pumpkin Gratin

As a move toward a plant-based whole food diet, the Hub and I are all over quinoa. While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice. Quinoa is a favorite for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own. Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content and provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It's very small and has to be rinsed several times before cooking, which makes draining it problematic. Also as this red quinoa shows, it's not very attractive. I took lots of pictures, but it still sort of resembles dog food. Anyway it tastes OK. The Hub and I had this for dinner two nights and then I used the rest for a base for a salad. The recipe comes from the book The Best Vegetarian Recipes by Martha Rose Shulman.  

Quinoa and Pumpkin Gratin

2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin chunks
1 cup quinoa
water or vegetable stock, as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
2 ounces Gruyere, grated (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh or dry bread crumbs

1.  Place the squash or pumpkin in a steaming basket above 1 inch of boiling water, cover and steam until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a strainer set over a bowl. Allow to drain for 10 minutes. If any liquid drains from the squash/pumpkin, combine it with water or stock to measure 2 cups. Cut into small dice, about 1/4 inch.

2.  Cook the quinoa. Wash the grains in several changes of water and drain through a fine sieve. Transfer the squash and water mixture to a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the quinoa. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the grains display a spiral shape. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish or baking dish.

4.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a heavy nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until the garlic begins to color and smell fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Gently stir in the squash/pumpkin and quinoa. Stir together and remove from the heat.

5. Beat the eggs in a bowl, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Add the quinoa mixture and the cheese. Toss to combine. Taste and add more salt if desired. Turn into the baking dish. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the mixture is sizzling.

7.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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