Meat Free Monday

Quinoa is a versatile grain with many health properties


Not exactly a store cupboard essential in many of our kitchens, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) nevertheless has a lot to recommend it.

It is  a very versatile grain (gluten-free) with a delicate texture, mild nutty flavour and high protein content (it contains all the essential amino acids). Quinoa is  high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair. It’s also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it has a high iron content.

Quinoa is very easy to cook. It’s important to rinse the seeds well, because they are naturally coated with a bitter substance. Quinoa cooks in 15 minutes, and it’s easy to tell when it’s done because the seeds display a little white thread that curls around them. As it is so versatile, there are many ways you can combine this healthy grain with other ingredients to provide a satisfying meal. Today’s recipe is an autumnal gratin from Martha Rose Shulman.

Quinoa and Squash Gratin


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin/butternut squash, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 ounces)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a two-quart baking dish or gratin. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the summer squash, thyme and rosemary. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and stir in the squash mixture, the cooked quinoa and the cheese. Mix well and season, then scrape into the baking dish. Place in the oven, and bake 35 minutes or until it’s set and the top is lightly browned. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.