Rainbow Vegetarian Platter

This creation came about when I was trying to think of a new recipe for our vegetarian son’s birthday.  I wanted to include his favourite tastes: chili, goat’s cheese, fried onions and roasted butternut.  I also wanted it to be special, a little showy!  Hence it became a two recipe meal: the portabello mushrooms with tomato/basil/garlic topping,  and the butternut slices with red quinoa, onions and goat’s cheese.
(The photo only shows one mushroom instead of two, apologies!  I forgot to take a photo in time 🙁

photo 2 mushroom and tomatoes

Serves 4

150g red quinoa
8 portabella mushrooms
4 small red onions, finely sliced
1 tsp red chilli, finely chopped – or dried chilli
1 garlic clove, pressed
long neck of a butternut squash (the rest can be tomorrow’s veg)
250g tomatoes, finely chopped
fresh basil, about 8 leaves
150g goat’s cheese,  grated or crumbled
200g mixed leaves – watercress, rocket, any other fresh salad greens
coconut oil for cooking
Marigold broth powder or broth cube
sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste


Cut the neck of the butternut into 4 even slices.  Place in a moderately hot oven – 150 degrees (300 F or gas mark 2) – and drizzle with oil.  Roast until your tester fork says it’s cooked.  This will naturally depend on the length of your butternut neck and therefore the thickness of your slices, but 40 minutes normally does it for mine.  Don’t forget to turn halfway through.

Note: Charred edges are tasty and some recipes require caramelising but do keep to a minimum.  Burning your food forms HCAs and PAHS – heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are potentially carcinogenic.

The 8 mushrooms can go in the same oven.  Brush to clean them, then drizzle with a little oil and add freshly ground pepper.  Take them out of the oven after about 15 minutes (approx the same time you finish cooking the quinoa) otherwise they may be too floppy and not hold your tomato mix.

Place the finely sliced onions in a pan on the stove with 1 tbsp coconut oil and gently fry until soft.  I leave it on a low heat for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the red quinoa thoroughly, then place in a pot and cover well with water (about 1.5 inches).  Boil for approx 10 minutes until the white tails appear.  Al dente is what you want.  At this point stir in 1 tbsp Marigold broth powder for taste and turn off the stove.  Leave for a couple of minutes before removing excess water and placing it in a bowl.  Add the cooked onions and put aside – covered, so it stays a little warm – until the butternut is ready.  This quinoa mix will be the topping for the butternut slices.

Whilst the quinoa is cooking, the butternut and mushrooms roasting, you can chop the tomatoes and basil.  Place them in a second bowl.  Add chilli, garlic, sea salt and pepper.  This mixture will be the topping or filling for your mushrooms.

Putting it all together:

On a bed of your mixed greens, place two mushrooms and fill them with the tomato-basil-chilli-garlic mixture.  I drizzled some of the delicious juice on the greens.

Meanwhile place a round of the hot cooked butternut slice on your plate and top with a generous spoonful – and more – of the quinoa/onion mix.  Crumble goat’s cheese on top.

And that’s it, your rainbow plate of delicious food.

There are loads of variations on this meal, just replace and add, eg. puy lentils or chick peas instead of the quinoa.   Try to keep the separate flavours.  Often,  vegetarian dishes can become vegetable stews or just one big mixed lump of food which doesn’t do justice to the unique flavours and colours.

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