Turning Over a New (Fall) Leaf: Quinoa with Squash & Chard

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.

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  • The Diva on a Diet posted: 14 Oct at 3:25 pm

    Well, as long as you’ve admitted it … I will too. Guilty as charged, sometimes. I think we all have weeks like this, despite our best intentions. The good news is this quinoa dish. I looks excellent!

    So, so great to spend time with you this weekend at BHF. I miss you already!!!

    xoxoxo

  • Jeanette posted: 14 Oct at 8:50 pm

    I hear you on the excitement of bringing all that great produce home and not using it all. I end up washing and freezing what I don’t use (kale, corn, leeks, etc.) and saving it for soups. I even save celery leaves and leek ends for stock. Of course now, my freezer is another issue. Your recipe sounds great too, by the way.

  • ReikoC posted: 30 Jan at 11:57 am

    Hey, we had this last night next to grilled steelhead with chimmichurri sauce and sauteed potatoes with broccoli. Your quinoa dish was brilliant, and meant to be, since I had a leek and chard languishing in the fridge. Thank you.


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