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There is something so charmingly retro about this recipe, which is what drew me to it in the first place. Pressing cooked quinoa into a pie plate and then unmolding it onto a platter so the neat circles of butternut squash are attractively displayed on top seems like such a weird thing to do to quinoa. It’s something that they would’ve done in the 1960’s when American cuisine was all about Spam and pineapple upside down cakes. If my husband had been around when I stumbled across this recipe, he probably would’ve been hesitant to try it when my first reaction was “This looks so weird – I have to make it!”

But I’m not one to let a quirky 1960’s vibe dissuade me from trying out a recipe. So I made it as a side dish for dinner one night, and after we both marveled at this odd way of serving quinoa, we tried it. Holy cow, it’s good! It’s actually really tasty! I know the pie shape has nothing to do with the flavor, but it did cause some doubt. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to worry, I’ve tested it out, and this is a really yummy dish. It’s great as a side dish, but it would also work really well as a light lunch with a little side salad. It’s so healthy, all whole grains and veggies, it’s an easy way to slip some wholesome goodness into your meal.

Quinoa Pie with Butternut Squash

From Martha Stewart Living, November 2006

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, havled crosswise, and seeded

18 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage

1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup quinoa

2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought vegetable stock

1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Vegetable oil, cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 rimmed baking sheets with 1 teaspoon oil. Cut five 1/4-inch-thick rings of squash; cut remainder into 1/4-inch dice. Place squash on sheets. Toss with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 12 sage leaves. Bake until tender and just golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely. Keep oven on.
  2. Heat remaining teaspoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. quinoa and stock; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat. Simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 2 minutes.
  3. Stir together quinoa, diced squash, chopped sage, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  4. Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange 6 sage leaves face down in plate; top with squash rings. Press quinoa mixture on top.
  5. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. Serve wedges warm or at room temperature.


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This right here is a big bowl of hearty, spicy autumnal goodness. I’ve never had a chili like this before. I’m a big fan of the beef and beans kind of chili, topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream, and I love a good plate of Cincinnati chili¬†with its chocolatey notes, served on top of spaghetti.

This one is different. This one is autumn in chili form. This is chili with butternut squash and apples and it’s thick and chunky and beany and unexpected and extremely satisfying. I’ll definitely be adding this recipe to my repertoire – it’s a keeper.

Note – use a big pot for this. Admittedly, I used a huge butternut squash (I’m crazy for butternut squash) and my 7 quart Martha Stewart Dutch oven was barely big enough for it, but I think my 5 quart Dutch oven wouldn’t have worked well here.

Autumn Harvest Chili

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2011

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 1/2 lb cooked chicken-apple sausage links, cut in 1 inch pieces

2 large red onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch chunks (about 6 cups)

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

2 cans pinto beans (or kidney beans), drained and rinsed, 1 can slightly smashed

1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

Gala or other apples, cut in rings

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Add sausage; cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  2. In the same pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook onions for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until onion is nearly tender. Add squash and cook 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook 1 minute. Return chicken to pot and add broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Cook apples 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Transfer apples along with beans to chili. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes, until apples are tender. Top with sage and apple slices. Makes 8 servings.

I think of all the seasons, I get most excited for fall… after weeks of being unable to turn on the oven – even dreading having a single burner on because it will turn the kitchen into a sweltering sauna – suddenly finding myself able to to roast or simmer or braise to my heart’s content comes as a relief. I love cooking with butternut squash and pumpkin again, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, slow-cooking braises where the meat falls off the bone. There is nothing so satisfying and comforting as tucking into a big bowl of steamy, hearty soup on a chilly fall day.

This soup certainly fits the bill. It’s about as hearty and wholesome as they get – big chunks of colorful, tasty fall veggies, chock full of fiber- and protein-packed lentils, bursts of vitamin-rich spinach, all melding together in a flavorful, soothing broth. It’s perfect for fall. James and I have been enjoying the heck out it – the recipe makes a lot so we’re getting quite a few easy dinners out of the leftovers. After a long ¬†hike yesterday up a mountain in central New Hampshire, it sure was nice to come home and heat up a couple of servings of this deliciousness.

The original recipe calls for just sweet potatoes, but I had half of a butternut squash already peeled in the fridge, leftover from another dish, so I chopped it up and threw that in as well. I think it’s a winning addition – I’m crazy for butternut squash – so I think I’ll add it to this soup from now on. Feel free to leave it out, or even substitute a different kind of winter squash… I’m think I’ll have to try pumpkin one of these days. Swiss chard, tough stems removed, could be substituted for the spinach. The original recipe also calls for vegetable broth, which would make this meal vegetarian, but I prefer the savory goodness of chicken broth.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Spinach

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Serves: 8 – 10

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

3 cups water

2 cans (15 ounce) diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent and garlic is just barely starting to brown. Add carrot, celery, sweet potatoes, and squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables soften, about 6 – 9 minutes.
  2. Stir in the lentils, broth, and water. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Cook on medium-low heat for about 35-40 minutes or until lentils are cooked.
  3. Add the fresh spinach and stir. If necessary, season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Suzi

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