I think it’s fairly common to make healthy eating resolutions in January, and then watch in horror as they go down the drain when Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter hit. Those don’t seem like big eating holidays, which is why we all figure we’re out of the dog house post-New Years — but then the boxes of chocolate, fancy dinner dates, Irish soda bread, corned beef, Easter ham and everything buttery, sugary, salty and fried makes itself absolutely necessary… again.
I’m a total victim of this caloric conga line — so in an attempt to claim my healthy eating victory once and for all, I’m gathering an arsenal of go-to clean meals for the warmer months, and hopefully these
new revived eating habits will trample the 2013 holidays in triumph!
The first meal I’ll be featuring is one I’ve completely fallen in love with. It comes together fairly quickly and will stuff 3-4 people (depending on the size of their appetites). The combination of nutty quinoa with fresh citrus juices, toasted almonds and tangy apricots perfectly complements the sweet and savory wedges of balsamic roasted kabocha squash.
The great thing about this “clean meal” is that it tastes so good, you can serve it to guests without feeling like you’re forcing your health rituals on them! This dish is to be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone with an appreciation for whole foods treated well.
If you’re like me, and time is of the essence when it comes to dinner prep, I’ve broken the recipe down into stages that are mindful of the ticking clock. I can usually have this entire dish ready less than an hour from when I’ve entered the kitchen. Wedging and peeling the squash will take a little bit of practice, but it gets easier!
I got a little carried away while taking pictures for this post because the orange hues and quinoa seeds are just so pretty! Bear with me as I post just a few more from this shoot, or scroll to the bottom for the full recipe!
Are you a quinoa fan? What are some of your favorite quinoa recipes? I’d love to give yours a try! Please share in the comments at the end!
The gorgeous serving platter in this post is from FindersKeepers Market!
Apricot Quinoa Pilaf With Toasted Almonds + Balsamic Roasted Kabocha Squash
Serves 4 | about 475 calories per serving
1 cup raw quinoa
1 cup of water
2 oranges (1 zested)
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 kabocha squash
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper for sprinkling
1/4-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven is heating, spread 1/3 cup slivered almonds on a baking sheet and set aside. As soon as the oven reaches 350 degrees F, toast the almonds for 6 minutes. You’ll have to complete this step during the next step.
After you set the uncooked almonds aside, rinse and dry your kabocha squash. Microwave it on high for 1 1/2 minutes on one side, then flip it and microwave another 1 1/2 minutes on the other side. This will soften the skin and make it much easier to peel. Then you want to cut the squash into 4 quarters, then cut the quarters into 8 (total) wedges. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon and cut the wedges in half once more so that you have 16. Peel the skins with a peeler, a knife or a spoon if they’re soft enough. Next, you’re going to toss the wedges in a large bowl with 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Once coated, spread the wedges evenly in a single layer in a large baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. At this point, the almonds should have been toasted (unless you’re lightning fast peeling and wedging a kabocha!), so the oven will be free. Place your squash in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Now you should zest 1 of your oranges (set the zest aside in a small bowl), and then squeeze the juice of both oranges into a small pot with 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. While the orange broth is coming to a boil, rinse 1 cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Add the rinsed quinoa to the boiling broth and reduce to a simmer. Set another timer for 20 minutes.
While the squash and quinoa are cooking, it’s time to prepare the rest of the quinoa fix-ins. You have the toasted almonds and the orange zest so far. Add the juice of 1 lime to the orange zest, and then slice 1/2 cup of dried apricots. Unsulfured apricots (darker and browner in color) are much sweeter than the sulfured kind I used in this recipe. You can use whichever you prefer!
Once the timer is up on the squash, drizzle the wedges with 1/4-1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. Continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Once the timer is up on the quinoa, fluff it with a fork and stir in your toasted almonds, orange zest/lime juice mixture and dried apricot slices.
The squash and quinoa should finish ALMOST at the same time, and the whole thing should take under an hour, including prep! I hope you give this recipe a try and I’d love to know how it turns out for you!