BUTTERNUT SQUASH WINTER BAKE
There’s something really cosy about oven bakes and I find this such a great plant based dish to serve as either a main or a side dish during the colder months. The harissa spice perks up the butternut squash so nicely and makes the roasted vegetables and crispy chickpeas more exotic.
Aside from prepping the veggies and cooking the quinoa, the bake mostly cooks itself in the oven, making this a pretty low effort meal. The tahini sauce is a great and super versatile sauce you can use over any vegetables and salads. I usually keep a jar of homemade tahini in my fridge to use on salads and the like as it is a healthy alternative to store-bought dressings (..and made from only a handful of simple ingredients!) If you’re not a fan of tahini, you can as an alternative use a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt instead and sprinkle some harissa spice on top of it.
The cooking instructions below go into detail on how to cook fluffy quinoa. It’s really simple and the key is leaving the quinoa to “fluff” in the pot with a lid after its done cooking. Ensure you have the right ratio of 1:2 quinoa to water (so 2 cups water to 1 cup uncooked quinoa), and once the water is gone lid goes on and heat goes off. This is the most important step to ensure fluffy and well cooked quinoa that does not have a grainy texture. So I included it in there, just to make sure… because undercooked quinoa that hasn’t been left to fluff is not awesome.
- ¾ cup dry quinoa
- 1½ cup water
- Pinch salt + pepper
- 400 gm (about 1 small) butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into long thin slices
- 1 tin chickpeas, washed and drained
- 1 cup packed kale, washed, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- Small handful almonds, chopped
- salt + pepper
- 2-3 tsp harissa spice
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) tahini
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) water (you can add more if you want it thinner)
- salt + pepper
- 1 tsp honey
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
- In a pot, cook the quinoa in water with a pinch of added salt. Leave to simmer without a lid for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is gone. Once the liquid is gone (but not so gone that its burning the bottom of the pot) turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot and leave it to fluff for another 10 minutes (this will help the quinoa get nice and fluffy).
- While the quinoa is “fluffing”, peel and cut your butternut squash + carrots.
- Combine the butternut squash, carrots and chickpeas in a large bowl and drizzle with a little oil, salt, pepper and the harissa spice. Combine using your hands or a spoon to cover the vegetables in the spice as well as possible.
- When the quinoa is done, spread it out evenly in an oven tray. Top with the harissa spiced vegetables and chickpeas. Then top with a little more harissa spice.
- Place the tray in a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, sprinkle with half of the chopped kale and the chopped almonds – then bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Combine all the tahini spice ingredients and whisk together in a small jar. Once the bake is done in the oven, add the remaining kale and drizzle with tahini sauce before serving.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Additional topping ideas: pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, walnuts + hummus