Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Black-Eyed Peas, and Corn

I picked up a quick lunch at Whole Foods the other day and tried out a new side in their hot food bar - a chile-spiked quinoa with beans, corn, and tomatoes. The idea of making quinoa with a mexican/southwestern flair hadn't occurred to me and I wanted to try out my own version. I had some butternut squash from my CSA box this week and love using squash, sweet potatoes, and yams in chilis and enchiladas so I thought this would go well with this dish. Instead of the black beans in Whole Foods' vesion, I used frozen black eyed peas, in addition to some frozen white corn. Don't be afraid to use certain frozen foods, as long as they don't have any additives. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at the peak of their freshness and while they shouldn't be the star of any dish, they can be a great complement when the fresh version isn't available (or in the case of black-eyed peas, when you don't have hours to cook them). I topped this with queso fresco cheese and toasted hulled pumpkin seeds which I think add a great finish to round out the flavors and texture. This is one of our new favorite dishes, even for my husband who previously has not been a big quinoa fan.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Black-Eyed Peas, and Corn
Serves 4-6

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

1/2 one large or 1 small butternut squash
1/2 red onion or 3 red torpedo onions, chopped or sliced
1 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 c. frozen black-eyed peas
2 c. frozen white corn
1 T. ancho chili powder
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Queso fresco cheese, for serving
Hulled toasted salted pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas), for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, peel, seed, and cut the butternut squash into small cubes. I peel the squash with a knife but a good vegetable peeler will work too. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the squash with the onion and coat with 1 T. olive oil and 1/2 t. kosher salt and stir to combine. Transfer to a sheet pan or rimmed cookie sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.

After the squash has been roasting for about 20 minutes, bring 3 cups of water, the 1 1/2 c. of quinoa, and 1 t. kosher salt to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. A few minutes before the quinoa is done, heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the black-eyed peas and corn and 1/2 t. kosher salt and saute a few minutes until heated through. Drain any excess water from the quinoa, remove the roasted squash and onions from the oven, and add everything to the skillet with the black-eyed peas and corn as well as the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne and stir to combine. Divide into plates or bowls and top with crumbled queso freso cheese and the hulled pumpkin seeds.

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