Basically, this steamy little fall dish here is just wonderful. It is warm and delicious and comforting. Just what the weather report calls for.
So, I teach cycling at the gym I work at, and it’s always a really fun time – not to mention great workout for everyone, including me! You could say I look forward to it. (Read: I heart cycling class.)
But, since the weather has just eked past the point of nice, refreshing, t-shirt-n-jeans weather and has gotten into pull-out-yer-winter-coat weather, it’s been considerably more challenging to abandon my slippers and sweatpants once I have them on.
I was wearing my slippers and sweatpants – still all cozified on the couch – 10 minutes before I had to leave for my class today. Somehow, I made it out the door in the nick of time, wearing (mostly) the proper attire. (Legwarmers don’t count as proper attire for spin class, but I wore them with defiance.)
The fact that I have to be there to teach, the fact that it’s fun, and yes, the fact that I know cycling warms me up a lot helped me get out the door. But the big bowl of quinoa and farro with butternut squash and kale waiting to be steamed up for dinner certainly helped make the cold seem less threatening.
On a cold day, a piping hot, delicious dinner isn’t just comfort food – it IS comfort. Like a Snuggie that warms you from the inside out. Or something like that.
This is an easy dish with just a little prep ahead. We even have enough to keep us going through the next few days, a fact which I feel very comforted by – I have a healthy and delicious meal on hand that I don’t even have to worry about making!
I wanted to keep this a straightforward and simple dish with a few key flavors that would stand out without overwhelming the natural taste and texture of the grains and sweet butternut squash. I think the butternut really gets the spotlight here. Take a bow, butternut.
Time to get that winter comfort food going!
Quinoa + Farro Butternut Bowl
1 medium butternut squash (or about 20 oz frozen + cubed)
1 c. dry quinoa
1 c. dry farro
2 ½ c. (plus ½ c. for sautéing) vegan “chicken” broth
2 T. (or 6 large cloves) minced garlic, divided
½ small yellow onion, diced
2 tsp. olive oil
10 oz frozen peas
3 large kale leaves, deveined and chopped
½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, or more as needed
½ tsp. salt, or more as needed
2-3 tsp. Herbs de Provence or herbed chicken seasoning
2 T. to ¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice, adjust to taste
To bake the butternut squash, set aside about 90 minutes, either a day or two ahead of time or just before you want to make this recipe. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Stab 3 holes in the sides of the squash with a small knife to allow steam to escape, place the squash on a baking sheet, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Then, roll the squash over, and bake another 20 minutes. Repeat once more.
Remove the squash from the oven, cut in half (it should be fairly soft in the center, but not falling apart), and allow to cool while you begin the other prep.
Cook the quinoa and farro with 2 ½ c. broth and 1 T. minced garlic in a rice cooker or on the stovetop, covered with a lid. I like to spray my rice cooker or pot with cooking spray before I put the grain in so it’s less likely to stick.
When the squash is cool enough to touch (or if you made it earlier or have frozen) peel off the skin and cube the flesh, removing the seeds and stringy parts. Move all of this to a large bowl and set aside.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium. Add the diced onion and some of the salt and pepper and sauté until slightly browned and translucent. Add ½ c. of stock and the frozen peas, and sauté a few minutes until almost warmed up, and then add the kale and a bit more salt and pepper. Finally, and cook down the kale while stirring the mixture just until it begins to wilt, usually only about 30-60 seconds.
Transfer the cubed squash to the pan with the peas, onions, and kale. Add the cooked farro and quinoa as well, along with the last 1 T. of minced garlic and lemon juice. Mix everything together and taste-test. (No double-dipping, now!) If you need to, add more salt, pepper, lemon juice, or a splash of olive oil.
I used a ton more pepper, and really liked it, but I made sure to taste-test first to be sure!
I served this with sautéed chicken breast, but this works really well as a meal by itself or as a side dish with something else!