Braised Pears with Qunioa and Butternut Squash

A couple of weeks ago the nonprofit that I work for held a fundraiser to raise money for our grants towards economic justice for women and girls.  Our guest speaker was a distinguished author who has done a lot of work with other women’s funds.  At the end of her speech, she was talking about why it is so important for everyone to be donating their time, money, and efforts towards social justice.  I believe her words were along the lines of “because no one else is going to do it… There is not going to be anyone to come in and do the job for us.”  For the past two weeks, these words have been ringing in my ears.

No one else is going to do it.  No one else is going to come and solve all of the economic, social, racial, etc. etc. injustice there is in our community.  It is up to us.  No one else is going to speak up when others are being exploited.  It is up to us.  I don’t know how that makes you feel, but it makes me feel like I’m not doing enough right now.

The life coach in me immediately turned those words inward and made me want to push myself harder.  No one else is going to tell me that I could be doing more in my life– whether that’s donating more, volunteering more, or being a more present community member.  No one else is going to come challenge me and tell me that they know I could be giving 110%.  It’s up to me. It’s up to us.  I’m not quite sure where I’m going to be taking this newfound passion and energy, but I know that I will be doing more

Until then, braised pears and quinoa will have to do. I love the contrast of red quinoa against the squash so I highly recommend it.  Red qunioa also has a different texture and slightly nuttier taste that is a great balance for the sweetness of the pears.  If you’re in a time crunch, you could easily leave out the butternut squash or serve the pears over plain quinoa.  But, if possible, I think you should make the extra effort.  Giving more is important when it comes to cooking too.

Serves 4.

Ingredients for quinoa and squash:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups broth (or water)
1/4 cup golden raisins
handful of slivered almonds
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and diced
2 Tbsp olive oil 

Ingredients for braised pears:  
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
4 Tbsp agave nectar 
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger root
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored
2 Tbs unseasoned rice vinegar

Butternut squash:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine squash and two tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and scatter evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turning 2-3 times with a spatula.

Quinoa:
Rinse your quinoa; then drain, transfer to a pot and add the broth.  Add the cumin, diced onion, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and cover with a tight-fitting lid, then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes and remove quinoa from heat.  Allow to sit five minutes with the lid on then fluff the quinoa gently with a fork.  Mix the raisins and almonds in just before serving.

Braised pears:
Melt Earth Balance in a pan and saute over medium heat.  Add soy sauce, ginger, agave, and cayenne pepper. Stir well until ingredients are combined then reduce heat to medium-low.  Add pears, cut side down.  Simmer 8-10 minutes, basting frequently until tender.  Transfer pears to a serving dish, leaving the liquid in the pan.  Bring liquid to a slow boil and add vinegar.  Simmer until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes.  This is what you will pour over your final dish.

Preparation:
Mix squash and quinoa, then plate.  Top with two pear halves and drizzle your sauce over the top.  

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