I could ramble on and on about the joys of crispy pancetta, perfectly caramelized brussels sprouts, and fluffy quinoa bathed in a subtly sweet roasted kabocha squash puree and layered with two types of melty cheese, but I don't want to bore you. Just know that this recipe is nothing short of dreamy.
This fabulous casserole is a very satisfying meal on its own, but it also makes a pretty epic side dish for almost any meat or fish. It's perfect for festive holiday dinner parties. Total showstopper.
- 1 medium kabocha squash
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Sea salt
- White pepper
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked quinoa
- 2 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
- 3 cups brussels sprouts (about 18 sprouts), washed and quartered
- 1 tablespoon good-quality maple syrup
- 6 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 3/4 cups freshly grated fontina
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
- 3 tablespoons whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
- For garnish: (optional)
- 2 brussels sprouts, shaved and quickly sautéed
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Using a very sharp knife, remove the very top (including the stem) and bottom of the squash. Slice the squash in half, and then scoop out the seeds and any stringy bits from the inside. Rub each half with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 1 hour until the squash is very tender.
- Meanwhile, add the quinoa and 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let rest for 5-10 minutes, covered, then fluff with a fork.
- Arrange the quartered sprouts on a baking sheet (or in a skillet) and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through until just tender and caramelized. (I like to do this during the last 20 minutes of the squash roasting time to keep things simple.)
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes until brown and crispy. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the shallots and garlic. (Make sure to wait for the pan to cool down or you'll burn the garlic, which will be a TRAGEDY.) Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots become translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- Once the squash is roasted, spoon the insides into a blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup vegetable stock and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and puree until smooth.
- Add the cooked quinoa, roasted brussels sprouts, pancetta mixture, 1 1/2 cups of squash puree, 1 cup fontina, 1/2 cup parmesan, and the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable stock to a large mixing bowl; mix until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a medium casserole dish or cast iron skillet and smooth into an even layer. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup fontina, 1/4 cup parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. Garnish with sautéed shaved brussels sprouts and pomegranate arils, if using.
- Grains , Main Dishes
- Serves 4-6