Quinoa With Roasted Winter Vegetables and Broccoli Pesto

Today was my sixth and last workshop co-leading a cooking and nutrition course with Leah’s Pantry in the Tenderloin. The experience has been both humbling and challenging to say the least. Working with 12-18 people on a weekly basis who all have their own individual dietary restrictions and preferences and keeping them engaged has definitely forced me to stay my toes. I’ve been experimenting with recipes at home that are easily adaptable to a hot plate or microwave and was pretty impressed today after I watched one of our talented clients scramble two eggs in the microwave.

We decided to have a potluck to celebrate our last class. I chose to make a Quinoa with Roasted Winter Vegetables and Broccoli Pesto that I saw on Martha Rose Shulman’s blog in the NYT last week. Because it included turnips and brussel sprouts, I asked everyone to try it and then guess which ingredients they were eating. The carrots and squash were easy. Only a few of them had tried brussel sprouts previously and most were amazed that they could actually be so tasty. After giving several hints as to what the mysterious white vegetable could be did one man guess it was a turnip – they all loved it! One person couldn’t believe I made it. The broccoli in the pesto had them intrigued and as a result of this taste test, I think Martha Rose Schulman will have a new following on her website. My heart swelled with joy when the group expressed their appreciation for our classes to help teach them that healthy food can be delicious AND accessible even with their limited appliances and budgets for food. As Alex likes to say, this dish was nutritious and delicious. I’d like to add that it’s also affordable, quick, and easy to throw together.

Quinoa with Roasted Winter Vegetables and Pesto, courtesy of Martha Rose Schulman

  • 1 pound winter squash, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled, quartered and cut in 2-inch lengths
  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the stem
  • 1/2 pound turnips, peeled and cut in wedges
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pesto or pistou

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil one or two sheet pans or baking dishes large enough to fit all of the vegetables in a single layer. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the vegetables in an even layer on the prepared pan. Place in the top third of the oven and bake 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees and continue to bake until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, 10 to 20 minutes.

2. While the vegetables are in the oven, cook the quinoa. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Bring 3 cups water or stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt to taste (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and translucent, and each grain displays a little thread. Drain through a strainer and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and allow the quinoa to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes or longer.

3. When the vegetables are tender, remove from the heat and transfer back to the bowl. Add the pesto or pistou and stir together. Serve over quinoa.

Yield: Serves 6

Advance preparation: The vegetables can hold for a few hours once roasted, but don’t toss with the pesto until you reheat them in a medium oven. The quinoa will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the oven, on top of the stove, or in the microwave.

Broccoli Pesto

  • 1/2 pound broccoli florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, green shoots removed
  • 1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces (1/3 to 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan, or a mixture of pecorino Romano and Parmesan, to taste

1. Steam the broccoli for 6 minutes, until very tender but still bright. Remove from the heat, rinse and drain on paper towels.

2. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is minced and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the broccoli and the basil to the machine and turn on. When contents are finely chopped, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the machine again and drizzle in the olive oil. Purée until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and the grated cheese, and process until well blended.

3. Transfer to a bowl and serve as a dip, spread or sauce with pasta. If serving with pasta, this amount will be plenty for a pound of pasta. Thin out with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before tossing with the pasta.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

Advance preparation: You can make this a day ahead, but the garlic will become more pungent. The pesto will retain its nice color.


Recipe Testing – Rugelach

Today we decided to make brunch for one of Alex’s high school friends. Since it’s been at least four years since we’ve strayed from scrambled eggs or cereal at home for breakfast, we kind of went overboard. When Alex learned that I was only serving sliced cantaloupe, rugelach, and pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes, he offered to make scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and basil. Needless to say, we haven’t eaten lunch and aren’t all that excited about any kind of dinner tonight.

I chose to make a batch of rugelach for this cycle of recipe evaluations. I had my choice of raisin, apricot, or chocolate filling. I chose the raisins. They were plumped with water, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon over low heat and then ground up with walnuts and a bit of rum.

I haven’t done much experimenting with pastry and was pleased that I didn’t mess them up! (I don’t have a great track record with pie crusts.) I rolled the dough into a rectangle-ish shape and smothered the filling from end to end. Then you roll it up lengthwise and slice it into smaller pieces. The filling oozed out out of the sides and looked gorgeous.


While only a small feat, it is the exact reason I was so eager to become a Leite’s tester. Trying and evaluating new recipes and techniques gets me out of my comfort zone and forces me to try things that I might not be inclined to make in my everyday life. This recipe was a huge win and I hope to be able to share it soon. Or just invite me to brunch!

Butternut Squash and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Another win from Heidi Swanson – healthy mac and cheese! I had all of the necessary produce for this recipe delivered yesterday in my CSA box: cherry tomatoes, basil, broccoli, and delicata squash. Alex and I put it together in about ten minutes and had a hard time putting our forks down once it was done. This is actually a reasonable weeknight meal in that there isn’t much prep work and it bakes in only 20 minutes. *And* it’s a wonderful way to get a few more veggies and whole wheat pasta into your diet!

Recipe courtesy of 101 Cookbooks

  • 1 small winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into tiny chunks
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch of basil, stems removed
  • 2 slices good brown bread, stale or dried out in the oven
  • 1/2 a small head of broccoli (100 g / 3.5 oz), roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • ~ 1 3/4 cups / 3.5 oz / 100 g grated white cheddar cheese
  • ~ 1 3/4 cups / 3.5 oz / 100 g grated gruyere cheese
  • a large handful of (yellow) cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups / 300 g dried (whole wheat) macaroni elbows

Preheat your oven to 400F with a rack in the middle. Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Place the squash on a large baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

In the meantime, pulse half the basil, all of the bread, the broccoli and a lug of olive oil in a food processor until you’ve got a fine crumb. Transfer to a small bowl and give the processor a rinse.

In a separate bowl, combine the creme fraiche and grated cheeses.

Place the cherry tomatoes in the food processor with the remaining basil. Pulse a couple times to break things up, then add to the creme fraiche mixture and stir well.

Boil the pasta in well-salted water for a bit less time than the package suggests – you want it ever so slightly undercooked. Drain, reserving a big cup of the hot pasta water for later use. Return the hot pasta to the pan and add the cheese mixture to it. Add the squash and give it a good stir. Add pasta water to thin the sauce to the consistency of cream. It can be a bit runny as the pasta will soak it up in the oven.

Transfer everything to a large baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle the green breadcrumbs evenly across the top and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until the topping is crunchy. Remove from the oven, and wait 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 – 10.

Recipe Testing Winner – Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

I’ve been patiently waiting for this recipe to pop up on the Leite’s website. Today was the day! I first tested the recipe back in July and have since made it twice. It’s one of those dishes where even the skinniest person at the table will ask for seconds. And the leftovers make a fantastic chicken stock. In fact, I used it as the base in my Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup last week and in a Pasta Fagioli dish last night. Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Instead of donning my bikini and sunning myself with the rest of San Francisco in Dolores Park this week, I’ve been content experimenting with all kinds of autumn squash in my steamy kitchen. Yesterday, my mother-in-law and I made some thyme and parmesan crusted butternut squash and a chicken braised in chicken broth and dry sherry. Today I made an acorn squash and sweet potato soup that was to die for. My CSA box is delivering delicata squash, golden beets, and rainbow cherry tomatoes so who knows what tomorrow will bring. All I know is that things will be a bit different in the kitchen without someone here to immediately clean up after me. Thanks again Joyce!

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, courtesy of Tartelette

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large acorn squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 9 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot set over medium high heat. Add the onion and curry powder and cook until the onion is almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, acorn squash, stock, maple syrup, thyme and nutmeg. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Let the soup cool a little. Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender or a blender/food processor. Reheat the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.