Yes-sir-ee bobbo…. Fall is in full swing. The pumpkins are carved, the mums are lining my front stairs leading to the house, we’ve had our first frost, the leaves are falling by the second, pumpkin spice lattes are being consumed mid-day as i put off moving wood down the side of the house…. it is here and i am THRILLED! Fall is my favorite season, hands down. i welcome its chill after the long hot summer months… i love the smell it brings… the air is crisp, almost spicy smelling… the risk of colder nights gives full permission to go ahead and start that first fire of the season in the fireplace… switching out all the sundresses and skirts for those lovely corduroy pants in varying earthy fall hues… sipping hot apple cider at night after you put the kiddos to bed…. sweet magnolia there are SOO many good reasons to wrap your arms around Fall and love it with all you’ve got. However, all of that goodiness being said… i haven’t even begun to speak of warm soups and stews being back in the weekday rotations -and the pure joy that brings to my foodie soul! this stew i am about to blog for you is a winner. a friend asked me last week if i had a recipe on my blog for quinoa**, as she had some she wanted to use up. i was shocked to see that i did NOT- and set out to remedy the hell out of that ASAP! i got to researching quinoa stews… and stumbled upon one that used butternut squash- another of my fall faves. giddy up i said… let’s do this. i took some things i didn’t like out of the recipe (olives) and added some things i felt would lend heartiness and healthy benefits. i tweaked it. i always do.
**let me first tell you about QUINOA – if you are not familiar with this superstar grain. Quinoa is considered a high nourishment food source, because it is essentially a ‘complete protein source.’ (super important words if you are a vegetarian or vegan). you’ve all heard the buzz words ‘SUPER FOOD’ … well this guy is one fo sho. quinoa is also gluten free, in fact it is not even in the same family as wheat or barley or rye. it has origins in South America around 1200AD- and most of the quinoa we consume today in the US comes from Peru, the largest commercial producer of it to date. this little guy packs some punch- it is a valuable source of heart healthy supportive fats (ALA and oleic acid) … and making it a part of your regular diet greatly lowers your risk of inflammation related diseases. eat some.
OK HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:
- a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into half inch pieces (or if lazy- buy it recipe ready and packaged in your produce section) you need around a pound.
- 3 cans chicken broth
- some boneless skinless chicken (i cooked a bone in breast in the oven and then let it cool and chopped it) you could also cheat and get a rotisserie chicken and use the breasts of that- and then reserve the rest for making a pot of soup later in the week. or cook up some tenderloins however you like- and cool and chop into bite sized pieces. (see pic below for how much chicken)
- olive oil
- 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
- one large onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of pepper
- 1 and a 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz can)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (packed) fresh spinach leaves, chopped
OK HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
place your diced butternut squash into a pyrex dish and add a little water (maybe 1/2 cup) and pop it into a 350* oven for about 15 mins. check it. if you can get your fork into it fairly easily and it seems to be getting tender, take and remove HALF of it onto a plate. set aside. put the other half back in the oven and keep it steaming for maybe 10 mins more. at this point you should be able to mash it with ease. (if not cook longer and keep checking) see visual.
set this aside, you will be adding it to the stew in a bit. to a heavy pot, add some olive oil. maybe a generous Tbsp? i never measure. get it on md/high. if you like some spice, give a shake of red pepper flakes into the oil. i literally start SO many recipes this way- i can’t even tell you. to me, it is background flavor. ok- add in your chopped onion. saute until becoming soft. add in your garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, stir for a minute to heat up the oregano and release the oils. then add in your broth (3 cans), your tomatoes, your beans, your mashed butternut squash (not cubes yet), and your quinoa. stir to combine. bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. cover and cook about 15 mins. Add in the chicken, the spinach and the cubed/cooked butternut squash. stir gently, cover again and cook a few more minutes to warm through the last three additions. SERVE IT UP YO! ultra good for you and chocked full of vitamins to keep you healthy for flu season! make some this weekend!
ENJOY!! Happy Fall ya’ll.