It’s amazing how certain flavor combinations immediately remind me of specific moments. When my dear friend Erin had her first son five years ago, I searched the internet for the perfect meal to bring when we went to meet the baby. Erin and I ended up joining the same lab and were always there for each other during all the ups and downs of getting our PhDs. I wanted to bring her and her hubby Greg something seasonal and really special, so I made butternut squash soup and this sweet potato gnocchi with a sage and brown butter sauce. Now whenever I have brown butter and sage together, I am always reminded of that day!
I’ve made this quinoa twice in the past several weeks, because it’s perfect for fall. Many of my favorite autumn ingredients, including roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and crumbled goat cheese, are tied together with toasty brown butter and crispy sage. I made this a main dish by mixing in some chicken as well, but I think chickpeas would also be lovely if you wanted to keep it vegetarian.
Butternut Squash Quinoa with Brown Butter and Sage
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups quinoa
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized cubes
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted and salted chopped pecans
6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place squash on a large baking sheet and drizzle evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake squash for 22-28 minutes at 400˚F or until tender.
Meanwhile, to make the quinoa, place quinoa and water in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed and quinoa is soft.
Place remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté chicken for 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and heat 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until butter solids are brown and smell nutty and toasted. Mix in chopped sage (it will sizzle) and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl and stir in brown butter mixture until well combined; stir in the roasted butternut squash, cooked chicken, dried cranberries, and pecans. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition: 609 calories, 28.9g fat, 8.4g fiber, 33.5g protein per serving
Cost: $1.62 per serving