It is definitely the time of year to pull in the stomach muscles and think healthy. I’ve long since given up making New Year’s resolutions. The sheer guilt and disappointment in myself when I fail to keep them has become too much to bare and just taunts me with how little self-control I possess. But not setting resolutions does not mean that I lack the desire to eat more healthily or take care of my body. I keep my weight (and hopefully my health) in check by following the 5:2 diet and have definitely noticed some positive spin-offs from the weekly ‘detox and self-repair’ process, – more energy, less back pain, healthier skin, better digestion………….
In between fast days, we generally eat a well-balanced diet, so I don’t feel too bad about the treats we fit in alongside. As my mother used to tell me, ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’, – providing of course it remains ‘a little’ and does not become ‘to excess’.
This week I had another dip into the pages of my new cook book ‘500 Gluten Free Recipes’ by Carol Beckerman and Deb Wheaton and came across a really healthy dish : butternut squash & quinoa patties. Inspired, I decided to make them, although I have made a few changes (I just can’t leave things as they are!). I have tried to keep broadly to the recipe, but added roasted pine nuts, sweetcorn and parmesan, took out the cranberries, changed the herbs, used different onions and altered the suggested wild rice to Thai black rice (as I didn’t have any wild rice left). I also added a couple of eggs to bind the patties as there was no way I was going to get the mixture to stay moulded without them!
This recipe is so healthy and wholesome that I am making it my entry for this month’s Four Season’s Food challenge organised by Louisa over at Eat Your Veg and Anneli at Delicieux. January’s theme is seasonally ‘Virtuous’ and this dish is certainly virtuous in my house!
Made with butternut squash, quinoa, black rice, brown rice and pine nuts, it is full of stuff which is very good for you and tastes absolutely delicious. Full of flavour and very well balanced, it makes a perfect ‘stand alone’ lunch, a side to accompany a larger meal, a starter or a snack.
I have been taking them into work every day since I made them, with a diddy pot of Harissa Mayo (see next post). These patties are just as good cold as they are hot and there is no guilt attached whatsoever!
The experience? First you get the natural soft sweetness of the butternut squash combined with the roasted earthiness and crunch of the pine nuts. The quinoa and rice make the main texture wholesome and firm but chewy and eaten straight after baking, the edges are crisp from the heat of the oven. There is a slight but distinct bitterness that comes through from the oregano, contrasted by the unmistakable natural sugar-sweetness of the fried onion and sweetcorn and the saltiness of the stock. Truly wonderful!
Although they are a bit of a pfaff to make, they are worth every bit of the process. They will definitely be a regular on my menu!
To prepare for this dish, I have written a helpful illustrated guide on How To Cook Quinoa with a printable Infographic.
Butternut, Quinoa & Pine Nut Patties (makes about 16 patties)
50g Thai black rice
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6.
- Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Brush with olive oil and bake for about 1 hour in the oven until soft. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
- Whilst the butternut is baking, cook the rice, drain and set aside.
- Mix the boiling water with the stock cube and quinoa in a saucepan and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside.
- Put the pine nuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 8 minutes until nicely browned, then set aside.
- Gently fry the chopped onion for about 10 minutes until soft and just beginning to caramelise.
- When the butternut has cooled, remove the soft flesh from the skin into a large bowl. Discard the skin and mash the flesh with a fork.
- Add the onion, rice, quinoa, pine nuts, sweetcorn, grated parmesan, herbs and seasoning to the squash and mix with a large spoon until evenly combined.
- Add the beaten egg and mix again to combine.
- Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper and re-heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6 (if it has cooled in between processes).
- Place a large spoonful of the mixture in your hands and squeeze gently to mould into a pattie shape. Gently place on the baking sheet.
- Continue this process of moulding until all of the mixture has been used.
- Carefully brush the top of each pattie with a little olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool on the trays or eat straight out of the oven. Delicious hot or cold!