In these middling days of autumn, with weather neither hot nor cold, I tend to gravitate toward equally noncommittal vegetable dishes. They’ll commit to being full of the flavors and colors of the season, but beyond that, they don’t like to be pinned down.
Take the attached recipe, for instance. It’s a bright, beautiful bowl of roasted dumpling squash, baby spinach, and quinoa, tossed together with a zingy cilantro-lime dressing and a few crunchy pepitas. Is it a salad? Sure, you could call it that if you feel like it, and even serve it chilled. But if you’re in the mood for a warming main at dinner, you could just as viably ignore its salad-like tendencies and serve it hot. Maybe even with a green salad on the side, to really confuse matters.
Luckily—like many things in the world that are worth getting to know—this meal is easier to like than it is to understand. It will leave you satisfied, even if it also leaves you guessing.
Talk to you soon.
P.S. I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.
Quinoa Bowls with Winter Squash, Spinach and Cilantro-Lime Dressing
This recipe calls for dumpling squash, but any winter squash with mild, sweet flesh and edible skin would work well here, or even one with firm flesh and inedible skin, as long as you peel it first. Acorn, delicata, red kuri, and buttercup would all be great choices. Dumpling squash are on the smallish side (similar to a small acorn squash -- the one I used was under two pounds), so use that as a reference. Squash sweetness varies a lot between varieties, so you might want to up the lime juice a bit if you use a really sweet variety.
- 1 medium dumpling squash
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in a few changes of water and drained well
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)