This was supposed to be my meat free Monday post last night, however by the time I got home from work (and the gym) and made dinner, I just didn’t feel like sitting in front of the computer. I curled up on the couch and read a book instead. So here it is, a day late.
Late last week and over the weekend I was celebrating my birthday. After some lovely meals (most of them at cafes and restaurants, except lunch with my family where my Mum cooked us lunch and baked me a cake) with my family and friends, not to mention a lot of baking over the past few weekends, I was in need of some simple, savoury (and hopefully a bit healthier) home cooking. A while ago I saw a recipe for stuffed butternut pumpkin with quinoa which I wanted to try, however I couldn’t find the recipe this weekend. So instead I set out to make my own. I was home alone Saturday night, so if it didn’t turn out there was only me to be disappointed and have to eat it!
I was really happy with the result. I was a bit worried about using mint and basil as I made it (they are two of my favourite herbs and it seemed like a good idea at the start), but they actually went really well in this dish. The goats’ cheese became a deliciously oozy, almost like a thick cheese sauce, and the quinoa added a nice nuttiness and texture. If you want some crunch you could add some pine nuts or breadcrumbs to the mix, but I was happy with it like this. Definitely a dish I will be making again. Jerome tried the other half the next night and enjoyed it as well.
If you are cooking quinoa, make sure you rinse it really well (until the water runs clear) before cooking. I have cooked it before without rinsing and it is very bitter. It makes a big difference to the final result! Also, while you are cooking it, why not make extra and use the rest to make a salad for lunches or light dinners? I cooked double the quinoa and to the extra I added more of the herbs and goats’ cheese, along with some roasted cauliflower and zucchini which I cooked at the same time as the pumpkin (though they didn’t take as long). It made a great lunch the next day.
Stuffed butternut pumpkin with quinoa and goats’ cheese
- 1 whole butternut pumpkin (also know as butternut squash)
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 – 1 ½ cups of cooked quinoa (rinse well prior to cooking to remove bitterness and cook as per packet instructions)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (or more to taste) – I used mint and basil, but you could also use parsely, chives or any other herbs you prefer.
- 75 – 100g goats’ cheese – crumbled
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan forced (200C).
- Cut the butternut pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres. Score the surface and drizzle with olive oil to coat and season with salt.
- Cut the top off the head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Place the pumpkin and garlic onto a baking tray.
- Roast in the oven for between 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes until the pumpkin and garlic is cooked and the flesh tender.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, cook the quinoa. I cook it by placing 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan, covering and bringing to the boil, then reducing the temperature and simmering for 15 minutes.
- While the quinoa is still warm, stir through the baby spinach and then add the herbs and cheese when it has cooled.
- Once the pumpkin has cooked, remove it from the oven and scoop out some of the cooked flesh to make more room for the stuffing. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the head and add about half (or more, it will depend on the size of the head of garlic) of it to the quinoa mix. Mix the pumpkin flesh and garlic with the quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste before spooning the filling into the pumpkin. If you have any leftover roasted garlic, you can add this to mayonnaise or other creamy salad dressings, hummus and other dips etc.
- Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the filling is warm and the top crispy.
- Note – You can also make this ahead until the end of step 7 and then leave to cool and store in the fridge. It will then take about 25 – 30 minutes to bake and heat through from cold.
- Serve as is or with a light salad on the side.