As teens, my friend Christine and I meticulously researched our way through every issue of Vogue Magazine. It was somewhat like an archeological expedition, and each one required its own special set of preparations. The most important ritual was to create a gooey chocolate treat. There was our rendition of rice krispie squares, more goo than crisp, or gooey caramel brownies, with more caramel than brownie. Neither of these snacks ultimately made any sense, when you consider that it was nearly impossible to turn the pages of the magazine, but we would giddily hide ourselves away, and virtually study the latest issue like a bible of sorts. In one such issue, I fell head over heels for the works of the Dutch painter Vermeer. You might have seen the painting the Girl with the Pearl Earring, which also sparked a book and a film. Most of Vogues' reproductions of his works not only featured musicians, but also recreated the most impressive palate of colours. The paintings were quite dark, but had such vivid hues with jeweled tones, to command the eye to beauty. Being a quirky girl, without posters of boy band members or horses, I cut out the Vermeer paintings, framed them and hung them up. I am not going to liken this little dish to the work of the great Dutch artist Vermeer. However, after continually staring at this photo and trying to determine what to tell you about it, all I can think of are the colours. Richly-hued tones peeking through something dark, and somewhat mysterious. And that does remind me of his vivid use of colour and light. So that's how I think of this dish with black quinoa, pomegranate, butternut squash, toasted almonds, and sage. Oh, and some maple syrup or agave nectar to sweeten things up. It's the contrast between the rich colours, and textures which create something pleasing to all the senses. Black Quinoa with Jewelry 1 cup black quinoa 2 medium butternut squash 1 pomegranate 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage (optional) 1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Slice the butternut squash in half, and place in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Cover with tinfoil, and bake until fork tender. Let cool. 2. Cook the quinoa according to package directions; the little ring around the middle should be just starting to come loose, and each grain should still have some bite. Before removing it from the pot, gently stir in the maple syrup/agave nectar. 3. Separate the seeds from the pomegranate, and lightly toast the almonds. 4. When the butternut squash is cool, scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks, and then remove the peel to reveal the chunks. Some more cutting may have to be done after removing the peel to ensure the pieces are of equal size. 5. In a large serving bowl, gently combine the quinoa, pomegranate seeds, butternut squash, toasted almonds, and the sage. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!