Part of traveling for me is about the food. It’s such a satisfying window into the culture of a country or region, a direct link to its history, people, beliefs, and geography. Traveling to three different regions in Italy last month certainly gave me that view; but I can eat only so many extravaganza lunches and dinners before hitting overload. The meals begin to blur, and my body reminds me I ultimately do better with less.
In fact, I would argue, that there’s a satisfaction all its own to pare a dish down to it most basic elements, sprinkling in a few flavor enhancing techniques and harmonizing accents like this autumn song.
I like to work with delicata squash for it’s cheerful striated ribs, and thin skin that doesn’t required peeling; late season sweet peppers for a burst of fall colors and whimsical shapes; and red onion that will add a sweet/savory caramel flavor when roasted.
Presoak all the vegetables in a marinade bath inspired by this recipe by Lynda on her TasteFood blog of orange juice, sriracha, pomegranate syrup mixture before roasting to add both heat and syrupy caramelization. (The sriracha is optional.)
While they’re roasting in the heat, toast the quinoa to create a nutty flavor and toss it into a shimmering mixture of water and orange juice to simmer. As a finishing touch, sprinkle pomegranate seeds and spiced pepitas on top for little crunch. Divine, healthy, packed with flavor and goodness.
I’ll be ready for a traveling table again, but for now, this simple dish beats a three course marathon of delicacies, and roots me in this season of color and intense flavors, and in my own home.
Pomegranate Roasted Squash Tossed with Quinoa and Pepitas
Makes 4 lunch servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 teaspoon sriracha, or hot sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Vegetables and Quinoa
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to accommodate the squash, peppers, and onions. Mix together well.
Chop of the ends of the delicata, and slice in half around its circumference to make it easier to work with. Slice each half in half again, lengthwise. With a spoon or knife, scoop out the seed and pulp. Place the sliced edge on a work surface so it looks like a tunnel, and slice in 1/2″ curved strips.
Cut the small sweet peppers in half, discard the stem, and remove any seeds and pith. Slice large pieces into smaller pieces.
Remove the papery skin from the red onion, slice off the top and bottom, and cut in half, lengthwise. Slice each half into 6 – 8 wedges.
Place all the vegetables in the marinade and soak on the counter for at least 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, or until the red onion starts to caramelize.
Make the quinoa per these directions with a mixture of orange juice and water as the simmering liquid. Measure out 2 cup of cooked quinoa, and toss with the nutmeg.
Combine the roasted vegetables with the quinoa on a serving plate, and sprinkle with spiced pepitas and pomegranate seeds.