I have a horrible secret. Something almost too awful admit. Something I’m truly ashamed of.
Are you ready to hear this?
(Deep breath) Here goes: I’ve been letting good food go bad. And what’s worse, I’ve been doing it all summer long.
You see, as the weekends roll around and I relax, I have visions of beautiful fresh produce from the farmers’ market and all the mouthwatering dishes I’m going to make. So, with perfectly pure intentions, I grab my canvas tote bag and head over to the local farmers’ market.
While there I oooh and ahhh over the bountiful produce, savor perfectly sweet fruit samples, chat with farmers, drool over the baked goods I don’t dare to buy, purchase produce I can’t resist, and finally end at a catering tent where I convince the chef to make me the freshest and most delicious egg, veggie and ground lamb focaccia sandwich without cheese.
And then I go home, eat my sandwich, and put the fruits, vegetables and herbs away. I usually spend the rest of the weekend running errands, relaxing, and going to dinner with friends and family. Maybe I cook one dish, but it’s okay I think, I’m going to use the produce during the week.
I’m guessing you know what happens next. I make one dish Monday night when I’m still pretty energized, then Tuesday I have a meeting, and Wednesday I meet a friend for dinner, Thursday I eat Monday’s leftovers, and by Friday I’m so exhausted I order Thai food (a rough schedule, but you get the point). Next thing you know, it’s Saturday, I’m back at the market and I’ve let a whole week’s worth of produce go bad. It’s a vicious cycle, and one I’m ashamed of.
Last week was even worse because I was in San Francisco for BlogHer Food (which was SO great, more on that to come soon). When I got home I immediately noticed the week-old vegetables in the fridge starting to look a little sad, although definitely still edible.
This week, I promised myself, things were going to change. And they did.
I rescued the portobello mushrooms, Delicata squash (such a hearty vegetable it wasn’t any worse for the wear), leek and a bunch of on-the-verge rainbow chard, and used them to make a delicious and very nutritious quinoa dish. (And you know how I feel about quinoa, right? Love it!)
This quinoa dish was wonderful and it tasted like fall, really. Plus, it made so much I was able to eat it throughout the week. And the best part? No wasted-food guilt.
Friends, I think this is the start of a new era!
Here’s the recipe for This Feels Like Fall Quinoa:
Quinoa with Squash & Chard- makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium Delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (can also use about half a small butternut squash)
2 portobello mushrooms, stems and dark gills removed (on the underside of the mushroom cap, use a spoon to scrape), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 leek, white part only, quartered and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger, peeled
1 bunch rainbow chard or other dark leafy green, stems removed, chopped into 1-inch square pieces (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup dried quinoa, prepare according to package instructions
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cubed Delicata squash and cook until lightly browned, about 7 minutes, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the cubed portobello mushrooms and chopped leeks. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and cook for 1 minute, then add the chopped chard. Cook, stirring often, until well-combined and the chard begins to wilt. Add the spices and the water. Cover the saute pan with a lid to steam the vegetables; keep covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and taste the vegetables – the squash should be soft enough to easily bite without falling apart. If the squash is still hard, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water and steam for another few minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and cook 1 minute longer.
Combine the hot cooked quinoa in a large bowl with the vegetables; mix well. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm.