It's a little bit real life - as in, yes, this is a picture of my lunch sitting on top of a grocery list. Try not to read the list too closely... This is a no judgment zone.
Soooooo.... a couple of month's ago, I had a Saturday that went like this.
Runner Girl was off to her boyfriend's birthday party. Culinary Kid was off with her boyfriend's family for the day. The Dude was off with his daughter for wedding planning stuff.
And I was... well... I had no where to be.
After about an hour of feeling grumpy and unnecessary, I started rummaging through the cupboards for one of my periodic food viability checks.
Please tell me that I am not the only person who needs to do periodic viability checks. Cans of stuff that I passed over a thousand and one times. Finding a partial bag of rice in one cupboard and then finding its twin - opened - in another cupboard (usually a result of "help" putting pantry items away). Random ingredients whose intended purpose is long forgotten.
Please tell me that I am not the only one...
The good news is that there weren't too many casualties this time around. The bad news is that there were way too many "partials" hanging out. Especially in the grain/ legume/ rice/ seed category. If anyone in my neighborhood needs a cup of rice, I can definitely help them out... They can even pick their variety. Seriously.
Since I was all by my lonesome, I decided to take some of those pantry orphans and turn them into lunch. Two partial bags of quinoa (white and red), a partial bag of dried cherries, an almost empty bottle of balsamic and one sad, lonely butternut squash that was leftover from my CSA season. Yes, it had been there a while...
While I finished my purge spree, I roasted the squash and cooked the quinoa - feeling rather virtuous in my efforts. Once they were ready, I tossed the quinoa with the cherries, threw in the squash and added the balsamic and some olive oil.
I tend to get rather casual about meal times when it is just me. I consider it a point of civility that I managed to scoop some into a bowl before eating - the fact that I ate standing up while making out a grocery list probably loses me that point right off...
We won't mention the sweat pants and T-shirt I was wearing that I may or may not have worn when I took that grocery list to the store. That probably loses me another point or two. At the very least, it makes me a Stacey and Clinton intervention candidate.
Sometimes real life is just that.
Roasted Butternut, Dried Cherry and Quinoa salad
1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed & cooked according to package direction
1 small butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1/2" cubes
1-2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar*
Kosher salt (to taste, but I used about 1 1/2 tsp)
Freshly ground pepper (~1 tsp)
1/4 - 1/2 cup dried cherries
Total time: ~ 1 hour
Servings: 2 as a meal, 4 as a side
Agave nectar and additional balsamic vinegar, to taste (optional, but tasty)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Prepare quinoa according to package directions (If no directions, rinse well and in a medium sized sauce pan combine 2 cups of water per 1 cup quinoa used. Add a pinch of salt if desired) Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ~20 minutes - until water is absorbed and quinoa shows a little white ring.) Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil (or parchment). Toss diced squash, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a medium sized boil. Spread evenly on to prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for ~20 minutes (use a spatula to move squash around 1-2 times during baking period) - until squash starts to caramelize and can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool for ~10 minutes.
In a medium sized bowl, toss together cooked quinoa with squash and cherries. You can stir in some agave nectar or additional balsamic at this point if you like.
*This is a great way to use up some flavored balsamics that may be hanging out in the cupboard. This time around, I used up a tangerine-fig balsamic.