Thursday, 17 September 2015

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

Last weekend I was delighted to introduce a lot of people to some yummy rabbit kebabs, peacock sliders and goat tacos – my wild menu was received with enthusiasm at the second annual BBQ competition at Ohope Beach. What a day!

After I finished my cooking demo I was invited to judge the salmon and mystery box courses – some very delicious food right there. One of the judging criteria was the “supporting act”; that is the stuff you serve with the star of the show to really bring out the best in it – to be honest, I never got to give any marks for this. So today marks the beginning of a series of supporting acts. After a few weeks you will know your couscous from your quinoa, your wild rice from your brown rice, and you will have some wonderful recipes to try next time you need a good supporting act.

Today we will start with quinoa. Pronounced kee-nwaa, quinoa originated in South America, and has been consumed by people for between 3 000 and 4 000 years. It is a rich source (>20% of the Daily value, DV) of the B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate and is a rich source of the dietary minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Quinoa is also a good source (10-19% of DV) of the B vitamins niacin and pantothenic acid, vitamin E, and the dietary mineral potassium. The pseudo cereal contains a modest amount of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. It is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Quinoa is easy to prepare and its fluffy texture and slightly nutty flavour make it an excellent alternative to white rice or couscous. When cooked, its grains quadruple in size and become almost translucent. It can be prepared much like rice. It should usually be rinsed or soaked before use to remove its bitter coating, so check packet instructions. Bring two cups of water to the boil to one cup of grain, cover, simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ should have a slight bite to it (al dente).

There is so much you can do with this yummy grain to make it a very memorable supporting act.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai x

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

1 medium butternut squash
olive oil, for roasting
pinch dried oregano
150g Quinoa (cooked)
100g feta cheese
50g toasted pine nuts
½ dozen halved chanterelle mushrooms if you can get them, if not, buttons will do.
1 small carrot, grated (around 50g)
small bunch chives, snipped
juice half lemon
1 red pepper, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped

Heat the oven to 200C. Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh with a sharp knife.

Arrange the two halves on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, sprinkle with dried oregano and cook for 40 minutes. Take out of the oven, add the chopped peppers and mushrooms to the tray alongside the squash and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the rest of the ingredients. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully transfer the peppers to the stuffing mix. Stir together and spoon the filling onto the butternut squash. Return to the oven for 10 mins. Serve.

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