Last night was a very important holiday, in case you didn’t know. Friendsgiving. It occurs the Sunday before Thanksgiving and consists of a potluck with a few friends and lots of amazing food. This year was the second annual Friendsgiving and the meal may have even topped last year. I obviously had to stick with something semi-healthy, but still full of comforting fall flavors, so I made a quinoa risotto with mixed mushrooms, roasted butternut squash and lots of parmesan cheese. This is one Thanksgiving side that you won’t feel guilty eating again on day two.
Sorry for the terrible photos here…this is what happens when you don’t take pictures during daylight. Had to take a picture of this plate and tell you a little bit about it. We had phyllo wrapped asparagus (a la Paula Dean…no shame here), pancetta-gruyere sweet potatoes (probably MVP of the meal and also most likely to give you a heart attack but totally worth it), sourdough bread stuffing, brussel sprouts with pancetta (yes, that’s the second time I’ve said pancetta…again, no shame), and my creations, pear-pomegranate-goat cheese-pecan salad (duh), and my quinoa risotto. Oh, and Jeff would never forgive me if I forgot to mention the dish he slaved over all day…rotisserie chicken from whole foods. Close enough to turkey, right?
Nutritional Highlights: Thanksgiving isn’t really a time of the year I believe in counting calories, but I also don’t mind having a few options on the Thanksgiving spread that aren’t going to add to your food hangover. This side dish is also gluten free, for all you glutards of the world! Try a side like this with healthy grains and vegetables or a salad with fall fruits and nuts. Because the more vegetables you eat the more room there will be for pie. Fact.
Wild Mushroom and Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 ounces mixed mushrooms (cremini, shitake, etc), cleaned and sliced
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, kept warm (but not boiling) in a sauce pan
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 shallots, small dice
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan or other sharp cheese (I used mix of parmesan, reggiano, and asiago and it was great!)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus additional for garnish, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425. Toss butternut squash in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until squash is slightly browned and soft.
- While the squash is cooking, cook the mushrooms. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add half of the shallot and half of the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until golden and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Over medium heat, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining garlic and shallot and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the quinoa and 1 tablespoon thyme and stir for about 3 minutes until quinoa is coated with oil and slightly toasted. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Pour about 1/2 cup of warm broth into the quinoa and continue to stir and simmer until it is completely absorbed. Allow pan to almost dry out between additions of broth. Keep stirring in broth 1/2 cup at a time until the quinoa is creamy and the quinoa germ has burst, about 30 minutes.
- Once the last addition of broth is almost absorbed, stir in the parmesan cheese, remove pan from heat, cover with a lid and let stand for 2 minutes to help develop the creamy texture. Stir in the mushrooms and butternut squash. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese and fresh thyme leaves.
- Enjoy as a healthy component of your Thanksgiving feast or for dinner any night in the fall/winter!