Because I can’t seem to get enough of pumpkin and ricotta lately – a light early spring lunch made from quinoa, plump, roasted butternut pumpkin, tender leeks, spinach, plenty of crumbled goats cheese, fresh herbs and ricotta, and topped with crunchy wholegrain breadcrumbs. Baked until the cheese is bubbly and the top is golden and crisp. Perfect with a simple side salad of lemon-kissed mixed leaves and flaky sea salt.
1 cup rinsed quinoa – I used a blend of red, white and black
1 ½ cups organic vegetable stock
2 medium sized leeks, white and green parts only, roughly chopped
1 small butternut pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 free range organic eggs
¾ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup goat’s cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice and zest of half a lemon
2 slices of stale wholegrain bread
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
Small handful of basil leaves, chopped
Small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C
Place the chopped pumpkin on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and pop into the preheated oven to roast for approx 20 minutes, until the pumpkin in tender and beginning to caramalise. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and vegetable stock, then cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let rest – covered – for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until the leeks are soft. Reduce the heat to low and add in the spinach. Toss and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in thyme, basil and parsley. Season to taste.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a clean plate to cool a little.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta and goats cheese. Add the mustard, lemon juice and zest, parmesan. Stir to combine. Season to taste.
Add the cooled quinoa to the spinach a leek mixture. Add in the roasted pumpkin and toss to combine. Pour in about ¾ of the ricotta mixture and stir to combine – add as much or as little of the sauce as you like.
Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish. Tear some of the stale bread and scatter over the top of the quinoa mixture. Grate some more parmesan cheese on top and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Before serving, crumble a little more goats cheese on top and garnish with fresh basil and thyme. Enjoy.