Black Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

 
Black Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash (image T. Freuman)

Black Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash (image T. Freuman)

While the rest of the world is testing the upper limit of their insulin sensitivity on Halloween, I prefer to treat myself to a delicious, savory and very righteous black-and-orange meal instead.

Black quinoa-stuffed acorn squash fits the bill, both because the colors are right and because they are incredibly nutritious and delicious foods in their own right.  (Subliminally, the fact that acorn squashes kind of look like mini pumpkins may have played a role, too.)  Since I’m also on the hook to come up with a vegetarian entree option for our family’s Thanksgiving meal this year, I figured that developing this dish would give me a good practice run for the big day next month.  It was the Thanksgiving angle that inspired the flavor profile of the quinoa stuffing, in fact.  Why not stud it with Thanksgiving-stuffing-ish ingredients like savory sauteed onions, chestnuts, mushrooms, and sage to offset the sweetness of the squash?  And why not top it with a garnish of roasted squash seeds while I was at it?

It was all sounding so delicious that for a moment I almost believed squash and quinoa could be the next classic Halloween combo–right up there with chocolate and peanut butter.  (Alas, my husband assured me that it could not be, but conceded that it was damn delicious nonetheless.)

Black Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and stringy membranes scooped out and set aside
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup black quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced peeled chestnuts (from a jar; equivalent of about 1/2 cup of whole chestnuts)
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt
  • To garnish: Roasted acorn squash seeds (see instructions below)

Directions:

  1. Roast the acorn squash as follows: using your hands, rub the exposed squash flesh (flat part as well as the scooped-out cavity) with a thin layer of olive oil and sparse sprinkle of salt.  Place squash halves flesh side up on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until the flesh is soft and cooked through.  (Depending on your oven and the size of the squash, this may take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, so keep an eye on them.  ).  When squash halves are roasted, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. While squash is roasting, cook the quinoa as per package directions and set aside when done.
  3. While squash is roasting and quinoa is cooking prepare the vegetables as follows:
    • Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large saute pan; when hot, add minced onion and cook until it starts to soften and become translucent, about 4 minutes.
    • Add minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds
    • Add the minced mushrooms and chestnuts to pan, stir constantly until vegetables are well-blended and mushrooms cook down
    • Add the minced sage leaves and thyme leaves; stir until blended.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the vegetable mixture in the saucepan and stir until well-blended.
  5. Add salt to taste
  6. Fill the hollowed-out squash with quinoa/vegetable mixture
  7. Garnish with roasted acorn squash seeds (see directions below) and serve!

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Directions:

  • Rinse seeds in a colander under running water to remove excess flesh/stringy membranes.
  • Spread clean seeds on a paper towel and allow to dry thoroughly
  • When dry, toss seeds with just enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt
  • Spread seeds out on a baking tray so that they’re not overlapping
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 275 degrees (preferably in a counter-top toaster oven, or until golden brown)

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