Chef Talk: Chef Rob Troilo, Nicholas Roberts

Stephanie Webster

Many of us at CTbites are loyal followers of Chef Rob Troilo and the inventive fare served up at Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro. His food is creative, yet not overdone, and always exceptionally delicious. Last week I had the pleasure of dining with him for lunch and encountered this special; Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Roasted Fennel & Caramelized Pear Stew. The fennel in this dish is very subtle, and the squash and pear work nicely together to create a richness that does not come from 2 sticks of butter, but from the depth of the ingredients themselves. Rob's preparation of these Winter fruits and vegetables almost makes you forget about missing Summer.

Now if I can just get ahold of the recipe for Rob's Maker's Mark Mac-n-Cheese...


Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Roasted Fennel & Caramelized Pear Stew 

Serves 6 


For Quinoa:

2 cups Quinoa

4 cups Water

1 ½ Tablespoons Salt

½ medium Red Onion

2 Bay Leaves

Olive Oil

Bring water, red onion, bay leaf & salt to a boil.  Add quinoa and simmer until al dente, about 10 minutes.  Strain.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Roughly chop the onion, add it back to the quinoa, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, season with pepper and more salt if needed.  Mix & set aside and keep warm


For the Stew:

1 large Butternut Squash

1 teaspoon fresh ground Allspice

1 teaspoon fresh grated Nutmeg

2 Bulbs of Fennel

3 Asian Pears

2 tablespoons Sugar

Juice of 1 Lemon

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

1 cup vegetable stock

2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

2  Tablespoons chopped chervil


1.  Preheat the oven to 425º and place a cookie sheet or roasting pan in the center.   

2. Slice the Fennel into wedges about a ½ inch thick, toss with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

3. Place fennel on the cookie sheet or roasting pan and roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 7 – 10 minutes.  Remove and keep warm.

4. Peel the butternut squash and cut in half lengthwise where the bulb meets the neck.  Reserve the bulb for another use.  Slice the neck into ½” rounds and toss with olive oil, allspice, nutmeg, salt & pepper.

5. Add a tablespoon of Olive Oil to a sauté pan and warm over medium high heat until the olive oil is fragrant.  Sauté the butternut squash in batches until nicely browned on each side.  Adding olive oil as needed.  Set aside in a warm place.

6. Peel the Pears, slice in half from stem to bottom, remove the seeds and then slice into thin wedges.  Toss with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.

7. Brown the pears in batches in a hot sauté pan until well browned.

8. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, lower to a simmer and reduce by half.

9. To finish, place a bed of the quinoa in the bottom of a 6 bowls, toss together the fennel & butternut squash with the parsley & chervil.  Check the seasoning and place on top of the quinoa.  Top with the pears and pour the vegetable stock around the perimeter of the bowls.