Being coeliac limits the types of wholegrains and cereals I can eat. Grains such as couscous, bulgur wheat, spelt, pearl barley and semolina are all off the menu for a coeliac. When recipes call for one of these ingredients it’s usually easiest and quickest to substitute it with rice. However, some days I get a bit fed up with rice, which is where quinoa comes in.
Quinoa is actually a bit of a super food. Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 8 of the essential amino acids that we must get from our diets. Having all 8 is actually quite unusual for a single ingredient/food. Often foods contain 3 or 4 different amino acids meaning we have to eat a combination of different foods in order to get the full set, not true with quinoa. Quinoa is also high in fibre, something else which can be difficult for coeliacs to find from their foods, as well as containing a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. The thing I like about quinoa, is how it looks and behaves a little like bulgur wheat, in that it is firm and slightly nutty to taste. The little grains actually seem to pop slightly as you chew them, which add a nice texture. It tastes quite bland on its own, but adapts well to a whole assortment of flavours.
Last weekend I picked up a butternut squash from the market, my first for many a month, but it seemed fitting now the days are becoming more autumnal. My favourite way to eat squash is to simply roast it with a little olive oil and some herbs, allowing the vegetables natural sweetness to intensify and shine.
In need of a quick lunch I simply added my roasted squash to some quinoa that I cooked with a little veg stock and a few peas for colour. Soft, warm and slightly creamy it made the perfect accompaniment to the roasted butternut. A sort of cross between a bulgur wheat salad and a risotto. I really must remember to use it more often.
Roast Butternut Squash with Qunioa
(This recipe is really more of a combining of ingredients than a recipe with exact quantities)
½ large butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
Fresh or dried thyme and oregano
Lemon zest and juice
Handful of frozen peas per person
Salt and pepper
Firm cheese to finish
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Slice your butternut squash into thick rounds, and then slice each round into 3 strips (no need to peel, the skin is edible when roasted and full of fibre). Arrange the slices on a baking tray lined with foil. Drizzle over the olive oil and some finely chopped fresh or dried thyme and oregano. Mix to coat the squash evenly.
Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until soft and just starting to caramelise around the edges.
Meanwhile, cook your quinoa according to the pack instructions, using veg stock in place of the water for extra flavour (not essential). Cook as much as stated on pack for the number of people you are serving.
When the quinoa is nearing the end of cooking, add in a handful of frozen peas per serving.
Once the squash is roasted, reserve a few strips for decoration and chop the rest of it into cubes and stir it through the cooked quinoa. Add the zest of ¼ to ½ a lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir through some extra herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve onto plates and decorate with a few of the reserved roasted squash strips. Add a little finely grated firm cheese if desired.
Eat and enjoy
Note: Any leftover roasted squash tastes fantastic as a sandwich filling with cream cheese or houmous