BUTTERNUT SQUASH QUINOA RISOTTO

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Fall is here! Well, not in Singapore but evidently depicted on the Instagram universe amirite? The season is trending with fall squashes; a great opportunity to explore more unfamiliar recipes apart from pumpkin soups and pies. Even if we can’t experience fall, that doesn’t stop us from bringing seasonal fall fare to our meals for sustenance.

To ride on this squash fever, I’ve put together a hearty Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto! All you need is 7 ingredients to make this creamy, deep umami (pleasant savoury taste) flavoured risotto a secret weapon for simple dinners.

On a “my time is precious” day, let’s be realistic. I keep my stress level low by steaming squash within 10 minutes and mashing them with a fork. Avoid roasting them, it takes 40 minutes, seriously. It will save you a round of grief, extra mediation session and sweaty pits.

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“Umami” is the fifth basic taste found in most broths, fermented soy products, and aged cheeses. Miso paste and nutritional yeast are two of my staple umami quick fix of all time. They are nutritious, versatile to cook, great soup bases and deemed as discerning elements that give foods a “wow” factor.

Two months ago, I discovered the taste of nutritional yeast to be unexpectedly cheesy! You may have came across this ingredient in many vegan/ plant-based recipes and assume it is tasteless, but no. It is the long lost sibling of parmesan cheese. I call it the “Magic Cheese Dust”, due to its nature of being dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and soy-free!

What’s nutritional yeast?

  • Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that undergoes heating and drying process. They are different from brewer’s yeast so don’t get them both mixed up.

What’s are the benefits of nutritional yeast?

  • It combats brittle nails, acne, hair loss. Improves overall skin, hair, and nails growth.

  • It supports overall immune system with its anti-inflammatory properties

  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin B-12, only in those that have been fortified by manufacturers. So be mindful to check the food packaging before purchasing it. Vitamin B-12 is an important water-soluble vitamin that helps develop red blood cells and DNA functioning. A lack of Vitamin B-12 leads to weakness, fatigue, pale skin, mood changes etc. Our bodies can’t make by itself, we obtain them from animal products. It is important for vegetarians and vegans to consume this.

How can I add nutritional yeast into cooking?

  • Think of it as a substitute for parmesan cheese! Whether you’re making pasta, toasties, stews, pizzas, or even korean kimchi ramyeon, use a teaspoon each day to meet your recommended intake.

Nutritional yeast enhances the nutty taste of the tricolour quinoa, and goes very well with butternut squash and deep-fried sage. Every time Ryan takes this for lunch at work, he demands for an extra teaspoon of nutritional yeast. He is quite obsessed with it now that I have to hide the packet in a safe place.

Lastly, before writing this post, I played with different squashes for this recipe within a month, and here’s my conclusion on how each squash determines the sweetness level in this risotto.

Very sweet: Japanese Pumpkin (Kabocha)/ Australian Pumpkin

Sweet: Butternut Squash

Moderately Sweet: Malaysian Pumpkin

Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe! I’ll be glad to hear your preferences:D

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH QUINOA RISOTTO (serves 4)

VEGAN | GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g butternut squash

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

  • ½ organic tricolour quinoa, rinsed thoroughly 

  • 1 heaping tsp organic red miso

  • 2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast (fortified with B-12)

  • 8 fresh sage leaves, for garnish

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

  • Use a tablespoon to scoop out seeds from butternut squash. Leave skin on, and chop them in large chunks (about 5 cm) using a cleaver. Arrange them, skin side down, on a steamer rack. 

  • Boil 500ml water in a steamer, stack the steamer rack on top, put lid on and cook butternut squash for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, let it cool for 10 minutes. 

  • Heat a medium saucepan with olive oil over medium high heat. Deep fry sage leaves for 2 minutes until crispy. Drain them on a kitchen towel. Set aside. 

  • Pour away ½  portion of olive oil, and add yellow onion into the same sauce pan. Cook onion for 3 minutes until lightly browned. 

  • Pour 350ml boiling water into sauce pan, stir in red miso for a minute until it dissolves. Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes over medium high heat. 

  • Meanwhile, remove skin from butternut squash and mash them with a fork. 

  • When quinoa is puffed and tender, reduce heat to low. Add ½ portion of mashed butternut squash and mix in completely before adding the remaining portion. 

  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast over risotto and stir quickly for 20 seconds. 

  • Divide risotto between plates and serve with 2 pieces crispy sage leaves on top. 

Notes

  • Insert a fork into butternut squash to check if its cooked through. 

  • You can steam butternut squash, and mash them the night before preparing risotto. Make sure they are stored in an air-tight container and refrigerate. 

  • Use a food processor to chop yellow onion (without skin on) finely

  • To have a runny consistency and texture, you can add 2 tbsp water each time and stir in until desired. 

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally