cooking poisonI love squash–love, love, love it.  When I was a kid, my mother tells me, I would eat squash every chance I got until my skin turned orangeish. I also ate pumpkin pie mix straight out of the can when I couldn’t get squash.  Turns out that Gentleman Scholar doesn’t care for squash, but if he told me that before, I didn’t believe him.

“You should cook with different ingredients” he told me.

“I love squash.” I told him.

“You should get some hobbies.” he told me.

“Cooking with squash is my hobby.” I told him.

He was less enthusiastic about this recipe, but I loved it, and I’m excited I used quinoa successfully the first time.  When I’ve had it in the past, I didn’t really care for it  (I didn’t dislike it, but was ambivalent), but it came out really well in this case.

Quinoa Butternut Squash Gratin
1 ½ lb. butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced
1 cup organic quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded– I actually used Jarlsberg because it was on sale.
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs– I bought a Rosemary and Olive oil loaf and tore it up into chunks rather than buy breadcrumbs.
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 2-quart baking or gratin dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Note: Who the hell has a gratin dish? I used my one casserole dish that I use for everything from baked mac and cheese to Gentleman Scholar’s Apple Crisp.  I don’t know if I could even recognize a gratin dish if I saw one–silly.

  • Peel and cube a whole squash, then put in a ziploc plastic bag and seal. Then pierce a few times with a fork and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until squash is soft and tender.
  • Note: I just heaped the squash in a bowl and covered with a paper towel.

  • Wash the quinoa in a fine sieve thoroughly (about 5 minutes) until water runs clear. This is very important, as quinoa has a bitter protective coating that can linger even after processing.
  • Note: I used my French Press to accomplish this, and it worked perfectly.  I had been planning to MacGuyver something with paper towels and a colander, but that seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. French Press was exactly what I needed, I didn’t lose a single grain of quinoa (except the stuff that stuck under the filter, which really wasn’t much).

  • Transfer squash and quinoa to a large (2 or 3-quart) pot. Add water and salt to pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and the quinoa blooms into little spirals. Remove from heat and let rest.
  • Mix quinoa and squash mixture, egg cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer into baking or gratin dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over gratin. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on top and bake for 35-45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

This was seriously delicious, and hearty without being heavy.  I might add a bit more cheese next time–cheese rules, but otherwise no complaints.  The egg and quinoa made a dense but springy kind of texture, which was delightful.  I did notice that about an hour after eating this, I started to feel really, really full.  Perhaps quinoa continues to expand after eating(?)  Either way, pretty happy with the results.

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