Roasting butternut squash brings out a savory sweetness that also pairs classically with sage in this cheesy quinoa bake. While I'm not sure it would fly in my house, this dish could stand on its own as a main vegetarian meal. I coupled this hearty side with simple roasted chicken legs to satisfy the carnivores in my home.
1 c quinoa (I like to use Central Market/HEB brand White and Red Quinoa microwave pouch, ready in 90 seconds. This yields 2 cups of cooked quinoa)
Olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch EVOO)
4 c butternut squash, cubed (I like to buy the HEB brand that is already cubed, two small bags)
1 red onion, diced
2 T mixed herbs, minced (I like a combination of sage, thyme, and parsley)
1 c milk
6 oz Fontina cheese, grated (or you could use any cheese really, Gruyère would be lovely)
1 1/2 c fresh breadcrumbs (about 1 1/2 English muffins pulsed in the food processor)
Microwave the quinoa. Alternatively, you can use the stovetop method here. I would recommend boiling chicken stock to boost the flavor. On a weeknight, however, the microwave pouch is ideal because this brand is whole ingredients, no additives.
Set cubed squash and diced onion on a baking sheet and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (depending on your tolerance — if you are sensitive, use 1 teaspoon), and toss to coat. Shake the pan to spread the vegetables into an even layer. Transfer to the oven and roast at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until squash and onions are just beginning to brown. I like to remove the pan halfway through and toss to redistribute the veggies.
Combine ingredients and bake
In a large mixing bowl combine the quinoa, milk, two-thirds of the herbs, two-thirds of the cheese and mix gently with a spoon. Add the roasted squash and onions and fold gently to combine. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased baking dish. Cover evenly with the remaining cheese.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss with your fingers until the breadcrumbs are fully coated. Spread this evenly atop the cheese.
At this point, the pan can be stashed in the fridge for as long as a day (maybe longer) and baked when needed. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until evenly golden. Let cool briefly before serving.
Chicken legs are super simple to make. Toss the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, flipping once midway through the cooking time.