Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kabocha and Pomegranate

After the husband reintroduced me to kabocha squash by way of a brilliant farroto he invented last month (coming soon to a blog near you), I became obsessed. (I say reintroduced because in retrospect, I have eaten it—and always loved it—in Japanese tempura, but never knew what kind of squash it was.) Roasted, kabocha tastes of toasted pumpkin seeds and squashy wonderment. You might think the latter is more of a delirious rant than an actual taste. Roast some yourself and see.

This recipe calls for enough kabocha to make about 2 cups cooked, plus 3-5 extra wedges for snacking, because I am a realist, and realists believe in accurately predicting the amount of a given ingredient that will make it past one's mouth and into the pot. Also because it allows you to have the following conversation:

You: Would you like a slice of kabocha?
Other person: Kabocha?
Other person: Is it good?
Other person: What?
You (mouth full): Mmrmph.

1 kabocha squash (weighing about a pound; or sub butternut squash)
Olive oil
1/2 cup quinoa
3 inches of a medium leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz veggie and/or chicken broth
2 oz. baby spinach or arugula
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a pan until golden brown
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Rinse the kabocha squash and pat dry. Cut the top out as you would when carving a pumpkin, then slice in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds, then slice both halves into even wedges (roughly 3/4" wide at the thickest part).

Drizzle a cookie sheet with olive oil, and arrange the squash wedges on the sheet, turning them over as you go so that both sides are lightly coated with olive oil. (Note that if you overcrowd, they won't brown well, so try to leave a little space between them.) Roast for 15 minutes, flip, and roast 12-15 minutes more or until lightly browned and tender without being squishy. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa and let soak in cold water for 15 minutes.

Heat a pot over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Saute the leek with a pinch of salt until it softens, then add the garlic. Saute a minute more, add the quinoa, and stir a few times. Pour in the broth, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, slice about 3/4 of the kabocha squash wedges out of their skin and cut into 1 inch pieces. (You also have time to seed the pomegranate and toast the pine nuts here if you want.) The rest of the squash is yours for the snacking.

When the quinoa is done, fold in the squash very gently (to avoid smushing it) and let heat through, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Toss the baby greens with a little bit of olive oil and a spoonful of sherry vinegar so that the leaves are very lightly coated. Pour the quinoa-squash mixture over the greens, and let sit for 2 minutes to slightly wilt the leaves. Toss gently, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste, and serve topped with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

1 comment:

  1. Kabocha. Can you say that two times fast? It is my favorite squash: similar to as sweet potato in texture and slightly buttery. The roasted skin is to die for. I cooked quinoa early this morning for the purpose of making a salad with it. I'll try this and maybe add some roasted Brussel Sprouts.