Meatless Monday Guest Post featuring Microplane: Quinoa Squash Pilaf
Cooking Tool of the Month – Microplane
Today’s guest post brings you a delicious Meatless Monday recipe that incorporates some of my favorite foods! It comes from my friend Christine who is a great vegan chef in Los Angeles. Check out her website at Veggie Fixation. Enjoy!
When Christy sent out her call for guest bloggers, I knew without a doubt that I MUST be part of the May round up. I love my Microplane Classic Series Zester so much that it is an item I gift to others (in fact, mom and dad received one for Christmas!) It is by far my favorite kitchen tool. While Microplane does make their graters in different shapes and sizes, I prefer the classic long thin one as it seems to provide the perfect amount of surface area for everything I put it to the task of grating or zesting.
Why do I love my microplane so much, you may wonder? Why not use a standard box grater, you ask? The answer is simple: it’s far superior to any other grater I’ve ever come upon. I love the versatility that my Microplane zester has to offer. It takes on the task of grating something on the softer side, like garlic or ginger, just as easily as it does something hard, like nutmeg or cinnamon. Also, unlike other graters, the edges are designed so that they are razor sharp but safe. I have definitely snagged a knuckle while using other graters, but have never had that happen with my microplane. It helps that you can position it how it is most comfortable for you to use, and based upon what you are grating.
I love the story on the company’s website of how Microplane came to be.
“It started out in 1990, merely as a new type of woodworking tool…
The big moment came in 1994, when Lorraine Lee, a homemaker in Ottawa, Canada, was making an Armenian orange cake. Out of frustration with her old grater, she picked up a new tool her husband, Leonard, had brought home from their hardware store, Lee Valley Tools. She slid the orange across its blades and was amazed. Lacy shards of zest fell from its surface like snowflakes. The Lees marveled at the tool, ate the cake, then promptly changed the product description in their catalogue. The Microplane® grater had earned permanent space in the kitchen.”
The recipe I am sharing for Quinoa Squash Pilaf is a perfect example of the Microplane zester’s versatility. I used my Microplane to zest my lemon, grind my cinnamon sticks, and grate my ginger. While you can mince the ginger, I prefer grating it to help infuse the flavor. (As a side note: the technique used for grating ginger would be the same for any recipe requiring ginger juice, without a juicer. To make ginger juice, you would just squeeze the grated ginger through a fine sieve, or tea strainer to remove the pulp.)
This recipe is one near and dear to my heart. It is the recipe I created for my final presentation during culinary school, and until now, has only been shared with my fellow classmates. I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you, as it is delicious, and a great way to put your Microplane to multiple uses! When globe squash are not available, you can make the pilaf using one or two chopped zucchini and serve it on a plate, instead of baking in the squash. I like to double the amount of quinoa when I do it that way. Dried cherries or currants are a great replacement for fresh cherries when they are out of season.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock
4 globe squash
1 tablespoon grape seed oil + extra for brushing
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
5 cherries (about ¼ cup), finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (roughly chopped if large)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
2. In a small saucepan, combine quinoa and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
3. Cut the tops off of the squash and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Set aside the scooped out inners, removing as much as possible without cutting into the outer walls of the squash. You are creating a shell for stuffing. Chop the inner parts into small pieces.
4. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add grape seed oil and garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
5. Add chopped squash and sauté until softened, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add grated ginger and sprinkle in coriander and cinnamon and sauté for another ten seconds, until squash mixture is well coated with spices.
6. Reduce heat to low and stir in cooked quinoa, mixing until well combined. Add cherries, pumpkin seeds and almonds and continue to sauté for a minute or two. Add extra veg stock to keep the mixture moist.
7. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chopped cilantro.
8. Brush the outside and inside of each hollowed out squash and lightly salt and pepper the insides. By the spoonful, add filling to each prepared squash, pressing down lightly to fill, with a little peaking over the top.
9. Place stuffed squash on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with parchment and foil to make a seal. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, until squash is tender and heated through. Allow to cool for a couple minutes and serve. (Alternately, blanch and shock squash first. Bake for about 15 minutes.)
Are you convinced that you must have a Microplane zester now? Keep an eye out for the awesome Microplane giveaway starting Friday!
Chef Christine has been cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove and loves healthier, plant-based versions of classic comfort foods, without the use of processed faux “meats”. After repeated praise for her imaginative and delicious cooking, she followed her passion and went to Bauman College in Berkeley, CA, where she became a certified natural chef. Chef Christine works to break down common misconceptions of vegan food through the preparation of food that is nourishing and fun to eat.
Through her company, Veggie Fixation, Chef Christine focuses on small groups for catering and seasonal cooking lessons, in order to provide more personal and refined services that are tailored to each client’s individual needs.