I’m still here, still alive, still in MoFo mode. But, it’s been a tremendously busy few weeks. Moving and working full time and MoFo-ing? What was I thinking?! I think I’m still in this. I think I can, I think I can! Anyhow, I finally finished packing and after a 13 hour move out of state, I’m finally settled in and in my new kitchen. So of course after all the cleaning and organizing and attempts to find the perfect lighting for photographing food, I put myself to work on one of my favorite recipes.
My roommate’s boyfriend who works on a farm, graciously bestowed us with a bounty of winter squash. Among them, my favorite — the acorn squash. If you haven’t noticed already, I really like stuffing food into more food (stuffed peppers, stuffed pasta, stuffed apples, stuffed summer squash). Maybe someday I’ll invent a vegan version of TurDuckEn. So of course, seeing the squash, I felt the need to stuff it. It just had to happen.
This is a recipe I first tried out last year at thanksgiving time and really enjoyed. It went over really well with my family too. It’s very easy to make, has a lot of fall flavor to it, and is very comforting. You can adjust the spices as you wish. If you want it to be more spicy, add more chili powder; more cinnamon-y, add more cinnamon. There’s really no way to make this “the wrong way.” Also, I like to play around with other ingredients. Sometimes I use raisins or dried apricots, this time, I used dates and cranberries. Usually, I like to make this with red quinoa because it looks really beautiful against the orange squash, but I had only white quinoa on hand and that worked well too. If you’re all about presentation come vegan harvest (thanksgiving), then I’d definitely go with the red!
(serves 3 or up to 6)
3 acorn squash, cut in half horizontally, remove stems and remove seeds (Tip: save the seeds for roasting!)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3/4 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 broccoli crown, chopped finely
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
12 pitted dates, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider (Tip: no added sugar/organic sugar means it’s vegan!)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the insides of all of the cut squash with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet with deep sides (not a flat cookie sheet). Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes, until the squash is soft to the touch, but still holds firm and doesn’t collapse. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and place them, cut side up, on a wire rack to cool.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. In a medium saucepan, add the water and dry quinoa. Bring to a boil and then cover and turn the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the fruit/nut filling. On medium high, heat a nonstick skillet with deep sides. Toast the walnuts, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Remove them from heat and put them in a small bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onions to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the broccoli and cook for 5 to 7 more minutes until the broccoli is bright green and soft. Stir in the spices and salt and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the nuts, cranberries, dates, and apple cider. Now add the quinoa and combine well. Remove from heat. Adjust spices and salt according to taste.
Equally stuff each squash half with the quinoa mixture. Return the baking pan (I used a deeper glass dish this time) and bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm.