I was at my new favourite cafe the other day – it’s called The Rooster Coffee House and it’s fabulous. Well worth a trip to Riverdale if you’re in the general Toronto area. Anyhow, back on topic, I was sipping a soya milk latte with my mom and noticed in their stack of books the new Moosewood cookbook called Cooking for Health: more than 200 new vegetarian and vegan recipes for delicious and nutrient-rich dishes. Naturally I asked to borrow it. I posted their super yummy Pear and Thyme Vinaigrette the other day. Today I’m posting a quinoa and sweet potato dish that is pleasing to the eye, taste-buds, nose, soul, and stomach. You gotta try it out. And I just had it for lunch so I can testify to the fact that it’s as good, if not better, the next day so make lots.

3/4 cup quinoa

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes

1 2/3 cups water

2 cups lightly packed finely chopped greens (chard, spinach etc.)

2 tbsps toasted pine nuts

1/4 currants

1 tbsp minced green onion

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

1. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer to remove any residue of the grains’ bitter coating.

2. Warm the oil in a covered pan. Add the onions and salt and cook on low heat, stirring now and then, until the onions are transparent, about 8 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, water, and drained quinoa, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Just before removing from the heat, stir in the greens, pine nuts, currants, green onions, and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This recipe is from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. The other day I posted 2 sauces from refresh that I love – Tamari and Tahini – and mentioned that I wanted to try the Butternut Squash and Pear soup. Well I tried it. Kind of. We had friends over for dinner last night and I needed a yummy side dish. So instead of making a soup, I turned the recipe into a puree. It was so good.

Not only was it totally delicious last night, but today for lunch I took the left-over puree, added a little veggie stock, turned it into a soup, and then sprinkled it with picada. Totally satisfying except now it’s gone which is sad. I wish I had made more. Try it  out. And one day I will make the soup the way Ruth Tal suggests and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, this is a great improv version.

1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced

1 cinnamon stick

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped (I used shallots which I adore)

1/3 cup white wine

2 pears, cored and chopped (to enhance the wonderful pear flavour in the soup, leave the pear peel on.)

sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the ginger, cinnamon stick , squash, and sweet potato in a large pot. Cover with the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.

2. While the vegetables are simmering in the pot, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes.

3. Add white wine and chopped pear to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes until wine is reduced; then add to the squash and sweet potato mixture.

4. When everything is cooked through, about 30 minutes, pour off most of the stock and reserve for another use (or for your reconstituted soup the next day!). Remove the cinnamon stick. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

photo credit: Kristina, Lovely Morning