I’ve mentioned Liana Krissoff’s new cookbook Whole Grains for a New Generation a couple of times now, on Facebook and Twitter, mostly because it’s been a ridiculous bargain on Amazon ($3, really?!). I ordered a copy for myself before Christmas (when it was a still-ridiculous $5) thanks to a tip from Emily at Nomnivorous, and I’ve been paging through it, planning various meals, since we returned from Maine. It’s a lovely book: nice, heavy paper stock, lots of photographs, with non-glossy pages and slightly muted images that seem fitting for an everyday-cooking, whole grains cookbook. It’s chock-a-bloc full of recipes, too: breakfast, appetizers, mains & sides, even desserts are well represented.
Several recipes have caught my eye, but as usual with me, the first dip into the book was dictated by what I had on hand: a small butternut squash that’s been sitting patiently on my counter since I was still getting the CSA; spicy Italian sausage from John Boy’s Farm in the chest freezer; the last of the jar of quinoa on my bookshelf-turned-pantry. Quinoa with roasted butternut squash and sausage it is!
Lately, quinoa is right up there with kale on the list of Hipster-Foodie-Approved ingredients, showing up in everything from soup & salad to cookies and cake. (Not even the innocent chocolate truffle is safe from the new Super Grain, it would appear). Which makes me chuckle, honestly: I think of quinoa as such a grain of the 90’s. Maybe I’m just ahead of the curve? (Yes, Kaela, I’m sure that’s it, you trendsetter, you.) Krissoff writes that this squash & sausage recipe was one that made her fall “hard in love” with quinoa. I can see it, because the dish is quite good, but I almost think that the sweet squash and savory sausage overwhelm the nutty flavor and chewy character of the quinoa itself; it’s more of a vehicle for squash & sausage than the shining star. I confess that it had never occurred to me to cook meat with quinoa, so that the grain would soak up all the meaty goodness while cooking, and the resulting flavor is outstanding. But I did sort of miss the fluffiness and texture of my standard quinoa method, which involves boiling then steaming the quinoa, so that the grains separate and become quite fluffy and dry.
Either way, this quinoa dish is quite tasty and satisfying, easy enough to toss together for a mid-week dinner, and might go a long way towards convincing the whole-grain skeptic in your life that there are worse things. Just don’t put it in a truffle, OK?
Adapted from Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa and Sausage in Whole Grains For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 and 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 medium onion, diced to 1-inch
- olive oil
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Italian sausage links (I used hot Italian)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
- 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 and 1/4 cups water
- fresh parsley and/or oregano, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 degrees F convection). In a large bowl, toss butternut squash and onion with a good drizzle of olive oil and a liberal sprinkle of salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven, turning once or twice, until squash edges are crispy and browning, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove sausage from its casing. Coat the bottom of a medium (4 or 5-quart) Dutch oven very lightly with olive oil (just enough to get browning started) and bring to a shimmer over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up with a wooden spatula, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is nicely browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add oregano, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add quinoa and water; stir, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until quinoa is fluffed and water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Add roasted squash & onion to the quinoa. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or oregano. Serve warm.
Serves 4 as a main dish; 8 as a side with soup or salad.
- I made some minor substitutions from the original: to find out what, I suggest you pick up the book.
- I like my roasted squash to be crispy on the outside, with a bit of charring on the edges, and tender, but not mushy, on the inside. Therefore I cut it pretty small; smaller than most recipes will call for. Feel free to prepare it as you like it best.
- The overall flavor profile here was sweet, despite the spicy Italian sausage. A few red chile flakes in with the quinoa might not be amiss.
- The original recipe called for 1/2 tsp of salt added to the quinoa while cooking. This produced, to my taste, a quite salty dish (and that is saying something, saltaholic that I am). I recommend holding off on salt during cooking and adding it to the final dish if necessary.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Fall through Winter.