“Orange and Yellow Vegetables – as Precious as Gold.”
Be sure to get some good orange veggies in your diet regularly – Squash, carrots, pumpkin, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. Antioxidants abound in these jewel-colored gems, providing heart and health protection. Not only are they good for the eyes, but they are strong cancer fighters as well. Other benefits of these golden goodies include helping the immune system, skin health, and help lower blood pressure. “Carotenoid” is the umbrella term for these orange-color-causing compounds, but there are many different types in the various veggies: α-carotene and β-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, β-cryptoxanthin, and more! Get a variety of veggies – get a variety of benefits.
I have become a big fan of pumpkin – we have a lot of the kabocha style here, and it is rich and savory! Not watery like a lot of different squash types seem to me.
My friend linked me to a page of pumpkin recipes, and there was one for black bean and pumpkin tacos. Well, I didn’t have tortillas (and am not a huge fan of them to begin with) so Dave and I played around some, tweaked the recipe, and were inspired to instead make this:
Admittedly, that pretty plate has yet to get a creative name of some sort. I suppose it could just be “quinoa, beans, and pumpkin puree with a side of salsa” but that’s a mouthful.
A tasty mouthful!
I love quinoa – it’s a whole grain, complete protein, cooks quickly, and has such a fun texture! Plus, it’s sold in bulk bags here which helps make it somewhat more cost efficient.
Roasting the kabocha pumpkin was the longest part of this recipe. Thankfully, though, while things roast in the oven, you can go about your day doing other things – like dancing around the kitchen like no one is watching! Ok ok, or you can be prepping other ingredients. (While dancing in your imagination!)
To make the puree, you just slice your pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and place the halves flesh-side-down on a baking pan. I recommend a pan with a rim. Not thinking, I used a flat sheet and had the wonderful liquids of the pumpkin release and spill over the sides. Smooth move, I know. Be smarter than me when you do this!
Then just bake at 375F for 30-60 minutes (varies on thickness of the squash), or until the flesh is quite tender and can be scooped out with a spoon. Scoop the flesh into a bowl, and just mash with a fork! If it’s too hard to squish with a fork, you may want to cook it a little longer. Puree is great – freeze it in little ice-cube sized containers for use later. You can add them to soups, casseroles, oatmeal, even smoothies! I am planning to spend some time stocking my freezer some weekend
Now, the rest of this is pretty simple:
Quinoa: follow the directions on the bag. (Usually, put 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water, boil until water is gone, about 15 minutes)
Puree: Measure out 1 cup of puree. Then mince up hot pepper and add to taste. (I used 1 small hot pepper) Add 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional – it does have a unique flavor that some people don’t like, but it has a lot of health benefits!)
Beans: I used dry beans, as they are going to be less processed, more natural, and free of potential toxins from cans (such as aluminum, BPA, etc.) But I admit, I do use canned beans now and then for convenience and speed.
2 cups soft/cooked beans (either cooked and drained, or if from the can then drain and rinse them)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
cayenne or chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp oil
Heat the oil, and gently sautee the garlic and onions, till soft. Add in the beans, cumin, and cayenne. Add water if needed to help keep from sticking to the pan. Stir to heat and coat.
Now you have all your selections! Scoop on some quinoa, top with beans, and place a dollop of pumpkin puree on top. I like the side of salsa, as it adds an extra little kick. Need some greens? Place this all on a bed of chopped Romaine lettuce for a great filling salad. Or maybe use a green leaf as a wrap and turn this in to a green burrito.
The smooth almost sweetness of the pumpkin is such a unique compliment to the earthy savory beans; and the quinoa adds a hearty bite to it all. Lovely!
Now that I’m going through this recipe, I am envisioning making some sort of casserole. Hmmm, maybe a quinoa-walnut crush with the seasoned beans, then a layer of tomatoes and green pepper, topped with a coating of pumpkin puree and a dash of paprika – then bake it all till the pumpkin gets a bit of a sweet brown glow!
Sounds like I have a new project to try…. I’ll let you know how it goes