During my recent birthday trip to visit my friend Karen, I was introduced to my new favorite dish, the Quinoa Bowl. Seriously, it’s so versatile and delicious and healthy and readily available. You can make it for lunch as a salad with what you have in your fridge. Or you can fancy it up and add some beautifully seasonal ingredients and make a completely different dish for a larger more satisfying meal.
My version is a late summer/early autumn quinoa bowl. Here in Minnesota, everyone has zucchini (also called courgette) to spare, either from their garden or from the farmers market or even the grocery store. I can usually score a few from coworkers who have so many that they’ve run out of things to do with them and are so very happy to hand them out. They were first on the list.
Butternut squash is a lovely ingredient that pairs with so many great fall flavors, which made it a slam dunk for this dish. Since it goes especially well with sage, I tossed the chopped up squash with sage, olive oil, salt and pepper and put it in the oven to roast.
You have to be careful with cutting up the butternut squash, as you might risk life and limb. If you peel the skin first with a sturdy potato peeler, then the flesh is a whole lot more manageable.
Because of my upbringing in Brazil, I have a hard time cooking meat without marinating it first. A simple marinade adds so much flavor to meat. For this chicken, I tossed the breast pieces with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped sage and chopped garlic. It’s super easy in a zip top plastic bag – you toss everything in there, zip the top, mix it up a bit, let it sit for 30 minutes or so, then remove the chicken to the grill and toss the bag. No muss, no fuss. (not pretty, but also not messy)
While the squash was roasting and the chicken marinating, I began the quinoa. Rinse it first, then add to a saucepan – 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, a dash of salt and bring to a boil. (here are fool-proof cooking instructions from the folks at The Kitchn)
The chicken and zucchini went on to the grill.
I had half an onion in my fridge, so I drizzled that with olive oil and tossed those slices on the grill too. Have you ever had grilled onion? Oh boy! It’s a happy day when you can grill onions. They are sweet, smoky and a bit crunchy still. Yum!
If you look closely, you can see one of the perils of grilling veggies – they slip right through the grates and out of reach…sadly.
This was also a great excuse to try my new balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a gift from my dear friend Eddie, they are from a local Minneapolis store called Vinaigrette. They were amazing! The balsamic is so sweet, think and mellow that you could drink it straight from the bottle. Thanks Eddie!!
I poured a glug of balsamic in a bowl, added olive oil, a blurb of Dijon mustard, fresh ground pepper and salt with a few drops of water and whisked it until well combined.
Now assemble. Quinoa on the bottom, then top with all the rest of the goodies – I used the roasted and grilled veggies, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, herbed goat cheese and grilled chicken, drizzled with the vinaigrette and garnished with fresh sage.
Voila! My new favorite dish.
Anddddddd proof that I’m a certified crazy cat lady! (Never fear, both Hattie and Mabel were swooped off the table 30 seconds after I took this photo)
Cooked quinoa (how to cook quinoa)
Roasted butternut squash
Grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, or any others)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon water
Whisk all the above ingredients together in a bowl until they are all well combined. Drizzle over the top of your bowl for a lively punch of flavor.
Bonus dish: A few days later, I cooked a whole new meal with the leftovers – I chopped up chicken, some of the veggies, some kale and the quinoa, sauteed them until crispy and topped with a boiled egg.
Voila! Quinoa hash!