Box Bonanza: Butternut squash, carrots, leeks, green garlic, cilantro!

Butternut Squash and Carrot Stew with Quinoa Pilaf

Having dealt so successfully with the leeks, it was time to turn my attention to the carrots. Using them up one at a time in salad was barely making a dent in the carrot logpile in my crisper. I started googling for carrot dishes. Carrot cake. Carrot soup. And… more carrot cake and carrot soup. Did you know there’s an Indian dessert made from carrots? But I didn’t want sweet, and I didn’t want wheat, and I didn’t want more soup to rot in my fridge. At last, on Epicurious, I found a recipe for roasted carrots and meyer lemons that sounded great, but I thought I would search just a little bit further. And that’s when I found it – the magic recipe that would use up almost everything still left in my fridge.

Epicurious is an interesting place to look for recipes. It has a very lively and active community of commenters – to find out more about Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew I was able to read through 13 pages of comments from people who’d tried the recipe. The commentary ranged from people who loved the stew so much they were determined to make it once a week and people who’d brought dinner parties to standing ovations with this single dish, to folks who found it incomparably revolting and people who made so many changes and substitutions that it no longer resembled the original recipe.

But the recipe used a lot of carrots, and I love quinoa, and one of the Epicurious commenters considerately linked to a page detailing how to peel and cube butternut squash with ease, which ultimately helped me to throw off a lifetime of butternut squash intimidation. I was able to substitute leeks for the onions in the recipe and green garlic for the garlic cloves, and I even had cilantro still green in the back of my fridge.

And so I made it. The butternut squash was no problem – I timed myself and it took 8 minutes from start to peeled and cubed finish, and that’s me with my semi-functional hands. Somehow the whole thing ended up taking 2 hours (I will admit to listening to NPR and talking on the phone and washing dishes at the same time) so I’m not sure if this recipe goes into the “worth the effort” category, but it did make a lot of very delicious, wonderfully healthy-feeling food that used up a lot of my box, so I guess the jury is still out on whether I’d make it again. It has a really great flavor to it, sweet from the carrots and savory from the quinoa pilaf. It is particularly tasty with the mint yogurt I made to go along with it, at the suggestion of one of the Epicurious reviewers.

The original recipe can be found at Epicurious, here, and my adapted and annotated version can be found beyond the

Moroccan Butternut Squash and Carrot Stew with Quinoa Pilaf

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion or leek, white parts only, or
3 cloves garlic or green garlic stalks, chopped
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of saffron
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes (the original recipe (OR) has the tomatoes drained – better to use the juice in place of some of the water)
Water to make 1 cup when combined with juice drained from the can of tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I believe in the end I added even more lemon juice)
3 cups 1-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 1 1/2-pound squash) (I just used the whole squash I got in my box)
2 cups 3/4-inch cubes carrots (OR calls for peeled, I left unpeeled)

Quinoa Pilaf (I always eat my quinoa plain, and it really was worth the effort to make it into this delicious, savory pilaf. It would be especially good as a way to introduce someone to quinoa.)
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon butter (or Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped leek
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
2 green garlic stalks, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1-2 teabags of mint tea (I was dismayed to find myself out of dried mint, and I wasn’t going to go out and buy fresh mint just for the recipe, but I had read many comments emphasizing the importance of the mint. Luckily, one commenter shared the tip of using the contents of a bag of herbal mint tea, which is of course made of, simply, dried mint!)

Mint Yogurt(I improvised this one based on suggestions from the Epicurians)
1 cup yogurt or kefir (I used kefir)
1-2 mint teabags, to taste
salt and sugar, to taste (tiny little amounts, just to bring out the flavor of the mint)

For stew:
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup water/tomato juice, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For quinoa:
Melt butter with oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Rewarm stew. Stir in half of cilantro and half of mint. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle remaining herbs over. Top with mint yogurt or serve alongside.

2 comments on “Box Bonanza: Butternut squash, carrots, leeks, green garlic, cilantro!

  1. Laurabeth says:

    I am making it tonight! I will report back.

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