Autumn Vegetable Roast with Quinoa & Feta

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Guest post by Krista A. Parr

The smells of roasting root vegetables and squashes with herbs and garlic is a hallmark of Autumn in my kitchen. There’s something so cozy and grounding about this type of cooking as it heralds the season of spending more time indoors baking, making soups & stews, and preserving the harvest through fermenting, canning, and dehydrating. I also find that this season invites quiet introspection; a time to go inside, both literally and figuratively. To all those who are travelling on a fertility journey, regardless of what stage you’re at, may this Autumn bring you closer to yourselves through nourishing foods, thoughts, and actions. As a side dish or main event, this simple, wholesome casserole-type dish feeds body and soul, and you can feel it as you savor every flavourful bite.

4 large garlic cloves, minced
Approx. 3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage
Approx 4-5 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
Approx 4-5 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped into 1-inch round chunks
1 large beet, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped into slivers
1 small/medium delicata squash (or use butternut or acorn squash), peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons butter
3⁄4 c. uncooked quinoa
1.5 c. water or chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground turmeric + pinch of fresh ground pepper
2-3 Tablespoons dulse, optional (dulse is a mild, tender dried seaweed loaded with calcium, magnesium, and iron)
1⁄2 tsp. coconut oil (for cooking the quinoa, to keep it from sticking)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp of each)
Approx. 2 c. feta cheese (look for traditional feta made from sheep or goat milk)

Note: feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand for this dish. Mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes, yams, brussels sprouts, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, zucchini, bell peppers and turnips would all work well. I wouldn’t leave out the fennel, though, as the flavour is incredible!

Preheat oven to 400F while chopping veggies.
In a large bowl, mix garlic, onion, carrots, beets, fennel, squash, sage, rosemary, sea salt & pepper and then transfer to a shallow roasting pan or baking dish. Place the 3 Tablespoons of butter on top and place in the oven. After 5 minutes, stir the mixture to incorporate the now-melted butter. Stir every 15-20 minutes until the veggies are cooked but not mushy. About 30-45 minutes to roasted perfection!
While the veggies are roasting, rinse quinoa well in a fine mesh sieve and then place in a pot with the water or chicken broth, coconut oil, dulse, turmeric & pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to minimum and cook quinoa for about 20 minutes with the lid on.
When quinoa and veggies are done cooking, gently mix together in a large bowl along with the fresh basil and feta cheese. If you are not serving/eating the entire dish right away, just sprinkle the feta cheese on each individual serving instead of incorporating all 2 cups into the mixture. This way, leftovers will keep better and re-heating will be easier.
Speaking of leftovers, this dish makes a great breakfast: sauté with kale and then create a little ‘nest’ in the centre. Crack a couple of eggs into the nest, lower heat to minimum, put a splash of water in the pan, cover with tightly fitting lid, and allow eggs to poach for a few minutes.

Krista A. Parr is a Vancouver Registered Holistic Nutritionist and founder of Root to Fruit Nutrition, specializing in fertility and women’s health.

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