Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stuffed Acorn Squash

As you all know, I'm a pretty big fan of stuffed squash. They're relatively easy to make, despite there being a lot of steps, they're very healthful and they're effectively a "one pot" meal which means significantly fewer dishes to wash (this is important to me because dishes are the Death Star of my soul). They're also highly customizable and can be done with pretty much anything you have on hand at the house so long as you have a squash (of any type) to fill. I typically will select a high-protein grain for these because I nearly always make them either vegetarian or vegan, but meat could easily be added if that's your preference. I wanted to make one for Ilana since she'd never had it before, and since I'd found a large and beautiful acorn squash it seemed like a great opportunity. She ate this like it was going out of style, and to my surprise plowed through just under a quarter of the squash. Ross told me he thinks this probably belongs in her regular dinner rotation (and ours again).

1 large acorn squash, 5-7" in diameter

.75 cups quinoa
1.5 cups whey or water (I use whey from making yogurt; it imparts a nice flavor, cuts down on food waste and gets the ever growing mass of whey out of my fridge or freezer)
1 teaspoon iodized salt

1 small carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1/4-ish cup pickles, minced (I used Arabic pickles here but any kind you have on hand is going to be just fine)
1 small tomato, diced
1 tablespoon dried currants, soaked for 5-10 minutes in 2 tablespoons warm or hot water
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon iodized salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan (optional)

Cut squash in half and scoop out insides (set these aside to do something else with; the seeds will be roasted over here and the "guts" will be put in stock). Place in a cast iron skillet or oven-proof pan, cut-side down, with about a 1/2" of water and roast at 400F for 30-45 minutes (this could take up to an hour but shouldn't), or until a fork can easily pierce the squash.

While the squash is baking, combine the second group of ingredients, bring to a boil and let boil for a minute or two. Then turn the heat to medium low and let cook for 15-ish minutes. Let stand another 5-10 minutes.

As the quinoa cooks, chop up and mix together all the remaining ingredients except the cheese in a large bowl. When the quinoa is done, fold it into the veggie mixture. By now the squash should be done. Invert the halves without draining the water from the bottom of the pan and fill each cavity with half the mixture. You should need to press it down a bit to get it all in there, and it should still form a dome over the top. Feel free to spread the dome out to cover the whole squash top. Turn the oven down to 350-375F (your call) and put your squash back in the oven. Roast another 25-30 minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over each squash half. Bake another 5 or so minutes. Let cool to serving temperature and eat! Serves 2 adults and 1 highly messy baby.

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