Squash rounds with hot quinoa, pepper squares and curry sauce

As the fall season sets in, creative programming becomes standard practice here at The Little Kitchen. I reach out to those who have a following in the food business but need a room to touch the customer. In this case the lovely Giulianna Torre from East Hamptons’ Juicy Naam has agreed to team up with me. We’ve created a vegetarian tasting menu supported by wine pairings from the Heller Estate, an organic winery and vineyard that’s been making wine in Carmel Valley California organically for over 30 years.

Last month, as the leaves began to turn we sat down and discussed our goal of creating a menu specific to vegetables and grains. During our chat, as we were bouncing ideas for quinoa around, Giulianna mentioned a memorable dish that she enjoyed in Manhattan, back in September at The Waverly Inn. She went on to describe a combination of organic red quinoa and diced vegetables with a sensuous green curry sauce, “but how to prepare it? What were the main ingredients?” I asked.
As it turned out she was so swept away by the dish that documenting the method never crossed her mind. Luck has it that the chef at Manhattans’ hottest ticket (The Waverly Inn), John Delucie, happens to be a friend.  I sent him an email requesting clues. His response was swift and simple. With his notes and my team, the following recipe has been organized from the stoves at Estia’s Little Kitchen for service this weekend.

The phone is ringing, tables are booking up, and it looks like creative programming is coming to the rescue. If wish lists came true I’d like to have Henry Heller and John Delucie in the house, too. Regardless, I’ll be happy with smiling customers and my new pal Giulianna.

For squash rounds with hot quinoa, pepper squares and curry sauce :

– Soak 2 cups Organic Red Quinoa in 3 cups of water for at least 4 hours, over night is best
– 1 butternut squash peeled, dice the stem and core the base, slice the base into 4 rounds
– place rounds on a roasting pan in 1/2 inch of water and roast for 30 minutes @ 350.
– 2 large red peppers, toss with olive oil and roast with the squash in a separate pan.
– Remove from the oven when completely soft and place in a steel bowl covered w/ plastic wrap.
– 1 carrot, diced into pieces the same size as the squas
– 1 leek, diced the rinsed until clean in cold water
– 1 large portobello mushroom top, diced

For service remove peppers from the bowl, skin and seed them.
Be sure to reserve the liquid for the Quinoa.
Next, slice the peppers into 4 square pieces of equal size.

4 garlic cloves, diced
8 shallots, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces coconut milk
3 tablespoons green curry paste

Bring the shallots and garlic to a sizzle with oil over medium heat, when soft add the coconut milk, then simmer. Combine with curry paste in a blender at high speed.
In a sauce pan soften the diced squash, mushrooms and leeks then add the drained quinoa and stir. Next, add all of the pepper liquid followed by 2 cups warm water, season with salt and stir.
Finally reheat the butternut squash rounds and the pepper squares on an oiled sheet pan.
Assemble the dish on warm plates by filling the squash rounds with hot quinoa, top with the pepper squares and pour the curry sauce around as you like.

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