It has been so cold! Okay I know for all you people that live where it is really cold, I am laughable. But is has been damp and gray with temperatures in the 30's. When it was 70 degrees last week that feels cold! We are even supposed to get a little freezing rain! So I decided I needed something warm and comforting. No salads and juice this time of year! I usually am not a big fan of casseroles. I always tease Tom that he turns all his food into a casserole because when he serves his plate he piles everything together into one big heap. WTH? I usually steer clear of things that call for cans of soup or envelopes. Yes, they are convenient but you have no control over the ingredients and you get lots of artifical flavors, chemicals, and perservatives. So that means lots of casseroles are out.
I saw this recipe recently on a newletter I get from a health coach I know, Persephone Brown. Okay, so I don't really know her but she feels like a friend. When I did my training for The Institute of Integrative Nutrition we chose a health coach from a list and they served as our own health coach for the duration of the program. I chose Persephone because, well, what a cool name! And she lives on Block Island in RI! We only talked by phone but she is as awesome as I thought she would be. She leads healthy cleanses (virtually) so I have done three of them. She sends a weekly newsletter which is where I found this recipe. You can find her here. She takes great pictures, has a beautiful little boy and new baby girl and cooks delicious, healthy food. So I digress. Back to the casserole.
You already know I am not a big quinoa fan but I had a bunch in the pantry so decided to give it a try. You take cooked quinoa, mix it with sautéed onions and butternut squash, and then puree most of it with eggs and milk and cheese. You layer that with the rest of the squash, plus refried beans, and top it with cheese and pecans. Seems weird right? It is actually so good. It has thyme and oregano which makes it savory, but it has pecans and maple syrup and onions that make it a little sweet. The eggs, milk and cheese make it smooth, moist and luscious. I can't say enough about how good this is. I made a few changes. I used coconut oil instead of butter, and mashed a can of pinto beans because the store I went to didn't have refried, vegetarian beans. I cooked it in a loaf pan because I don't have the 8 x11 or so pan she called for. You have to try it. Cook the quinoa in advance while you do something else and then this will come together quickly. Yum! Thanks Persephone. By the way, she is starting a cleanse if you are interested. I can't this time as it is too hard with school, but I will for sure do one in the Fall or Summer, whenever she has another one. Check it out here…If you sign up tell her I sent you!
On a completely different note, I found a yoga studio I love. It is a non-profit studio with all proceeds benefitting The Amala Foundation, It is a really small studio, under the canopy of huge live oak trees, and is truly a little bit of peace in the middle of South Austin. How nice to think a practice that is benefitting me is also serving a greater purpose! Here are some photos of the beautiful 400 year old trees...
And a couple of other random things…I had a fabulous falafel sandwich (Maoz Vegetarian) the other day. It is not as good as L'As du Falafel in Paris which has the best ever, but it was really good. Worth the hike as it is not close to my house…Watch the video below (how weird it is they have a video?). They have other locations if you want to try them...
So here are some random pictures…. a picture of my falafel, the new glasses that I got and love (bad picture, great glasses) and my sweet kitties...
And finally, here is your recipe!
Quinoa and Butternut Squash Casserole
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1 inch slices
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and mashed or 1 can refried pinto beans
- 1/4 finely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and a good pinch of sea salt and saute until tender and translucent. Add the butternut squash, thyme and oregano and a little more salt. Saute until tender about 15-20 minutes.
In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups quinoa, 1/2 the cooked squash and onions, 1 cup of cheese, eggs, milk, and maple syrup. Stir to combine, then use an immersion blender to puree. Alternately use a food processor. Leave it a little thick and chunky. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of quinoa.
Pour 1/2 the quinoa mixture into a large loaf pan. Top with the rest of the squash and onion, spreading over the whole surface. Drop the beans by spoonfuls over the top, spreading it out as best you can. Cover with the remaining quinoa mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese and sprinkle with pecans. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes (depends on the size of your pan) until the cheese s just starting to brown, it puffs just a little, and bubbles around the edges.
Note: don't let the picture discourage you. This is sooo good!