When I finally decided to start my blog, it was very exciting. It was clear it would be a lot of work but I was up for the challenge. While I truly enjoy sharing my thoughts and recipe ideas with you, I have been
very busy a little lazy and have not been writing as often as I had planned. In an effort to get my butt in gear, I decided to sign up for NaBloPoMo on BlogHer. Which is basically a commitment to blog every day for one month and the theme for December is “work”. Coincidence, hmm? Today’s prompt is, what do you consider yourself a “pro” at? For me, that is being able to create new recipe and meal ideas using ingredients I have on hand. When I am in the mood for something new or different, things just start popping in my head and I can see what ingredients I have in my fridge and pantry and picture what the finished dish could look like. I feel like I am in a Sci Fi movie or something. That’s not weird, right? Ahem. Take for instance these Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffing.
While I am certainly not the first person to think of filling the cavity of a squash with stuffing, it just sort of started coming together in my head while I was figuring out dinner one night. I found this recipe on Healthy Crush to help me pull it together. They were so good. The white beans, mushrooms and pumpkin seeds blend well with the quinoa to make a savory and hearty filling for the roasted squash. The sweet and tart cranberries gives it a little zing. And you top it off with a nice mound of Parmesan cheese, yum.
These take will take you about an hour to make but mostly due to the roasting required for the squash. If you want to speed it along, you can always microwave the squash and cut your cooking time in half. If you have the time, definitely roast them.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. You are going to need a sharp knife and some elbow grease for this. That was the hard part. The rest is cake.
Clean out the seeds and stringy stuff with a big spoon.
Brush the squash with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Preparing quinoa is a lot like cooking rice. You need to rinse the quinoa for about 5 minutes to remove the saponins. If you don’t rinse the grain it can taste bitter. Drain the quinoa in a sieve and place in a medium sauce pan. Add 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Did you know you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker? Well, you can, check it out. And, how about those health benefits? It’s low in fat, high in protein and a great way to help get your daily intake of iron and fiber.
Cook the onions and mushrooms until they start to brown. Add in the beans and heat through.
Stir in the quinoa, cranberries, pepitas, thyme and salt and pepper. Just so you are not surprised, you will have leftover stuffing. I am sure you can find something creative to do with it. I on the other hand, am not creative and will be eating it straight from the storage container, (probably cold), for lunch. I’m just sophisticated that way. I will use a utensil, just for my Aunt’s sake.
Remove the squash from the oven and fill with the stuffing mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley and you have a delicious, healthy meal.
You can serve these tasty squash as a side but they are a perfect main dish for Meatless Monday lovers. Use the leftover stuffing for a nutritious lunch, it’s even better the next day.
Adapted from Healthy Crush, Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Mushroom Stuffing
- For the quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the squash and stuffing:
- 1 acorn squash, (I used a white swan acorn squash)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the squash in half lenghtwise and scoop out the seeds. Place in a baking dish and brush with one tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the rinsed and drained quinoa to a medium sized pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Take the quinoa off the heat, remove the lid and let sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Heat the remainin tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables start to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the beans and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cooked quinoa and add the thyme, salt and pepper. Add the cranberries and pepitas to the mixture and stir to combine.
Stuff the cavity of the squash with the quinoa mixture, (you will have extra stuffing), and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and top with the parmesan cheese and parsley.