Onion squash with leek and Quinoa

onion squash with leek and quinoiaHis loveliness the vegetarian rode off over the Sierra de la Contraviesa about 08.30 this morning. All legs, lungs and lycra. Being an expert in these matters – feeding the fit person in my life (not me) – the small matter of lunch and dinner was preoccupying me. When he returns the pattern is predicatable.  Prancing beside me, dripping with exertion, tip-tapping in those funny shoes that look like Smurf feet. Gulp down a pint of water or two. Detach cycle computer and relate all the fascinating (sic) statistics – number of kilometers, average speed, top speed, altitude gained, calories consumed, route taken, how fast he pedalled, heart rate. Enough already!  Todays stats were: total journey 50k, average speed 23kph (up a mountain), 2,600m of climbing, 1056 calories consumed, top speed 62kph. Incase you are interested!

Feeding a very slim, fit man with a mania for cycling is a heartbreaking task for a generously covered middle aged woman. Especially in relation to protein and carbs. The ideal meal for my build would be a small amount of protein, small amount of carbs and loads of greens. Mr lungs-on-legs of course, thrives on protein and carbs. And in the nearly 30 years we have been together he is just 3kg heavier and his waist 2.5cm bigger. Wish I could say the same for me!

Lunch was fresh rye bread with home made cheese, babaganoush, a large salad, followed by fresh cherries. And water. Big mistake to offer a carbohydrate feast immediately after a big ride. But dinner….. That’s a different matter altogether, and the matter was already in hand!

Whilst he was cycling I had been meandering in Orgiva. I found some beautiful onion squash in the wholefood shop, along with freshly dug leeks and soft wet garlic.  So here is the recipe for dinner………  Roast squash with garlic, leek, quinoa and halloumi.

Pour about four tablespoons of quinoa into a heavy based frying pan and dry roast it till it turns a light toasty brown. Then carefully  add about 300ml boiling water and cook it gently until al dente (about 6 minutes). Drain and run cold water through it to prevent it cooking in its residual heat. Quinoa has a very high protein content and is a complete protein – meaning, unlike pulses that must be combined with whole grains to complete the protein chain – quinoa does not need to be eaten in combination with other foods to be totally nutritious.

imageNutrition lesson over! Chop a small squash (about the size of a grapefruit) in half, scoop out the seeds, peel it and then chop into wedges. Wash one large leek, and chop it into 6 or 8 pieces. Slice one red chilli and chop half a dozen cloves of garlic.    Put them all in a shallow pan with a very generous glug of olive oil and half a lemon sliced into 4 pieces.  Season with salt and black pepper and throw in some chopped fresh rosemary. Finally, drizzle with about a tablespoon of runny honey. Then turn on the gas to a medium heat and cook without stirring it, for about 20 minutes. Then turn the squash and leeks over, turn up the heat and add one large chopped tomato and some chunks of halloumi cheese and about 20ml sherry vinegar. The oil, tomato, vinegar and honey combine to make the mist delicious reduction.

Serve with potatoes roasted with smoked paprika and green beans.

This is a pretty perfect combination of protein and carbs for the cyclist. However, it is a pretty catastrophic combination for my waistline. But there we are – the cyclist must be fed!

By the way- for the cyclists amongst you – the squash seeds make wonderful snacks if you wash them and then roast them in equal quantities of oil, honey and good quality soy sauce. A perfect pick-you-up for when you are half way up a mountain!

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