Acorn Squash Stuffed Two Ways

Another Trader Joe’s temptation and a bargain with my roommate led to this autumnal dinner.

Acorn Squash Stuffed Two Ways

Create Your Own bite #15

For Acorn Squash:

1 Acorn Squash, halved

1/2 Large Yellow Onion, Diced

1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup Water

Salt and Pepper

For Stuffings:

1/2 Cup Sliced White Button Mushrooms

1 Small Red Delicious Apple, Sliced

1/4 Cup Quinoa, Rinsed and Cooked

1/2 Tsp Coriander, Divided

1 Tsp Basil

1/4 Tsp Ginger

Salt and Pepper

1 Tsp Canola Oil, Divided

2 Cups Kale, Chopped

This recipe makes 2 servings, 1/2 Squash Per Serving

Estimated Calories: 265

While I share with you my story behind this duo of acorn squash, preheat your oven to 375.

On my weekly grocery trip to Trader Joes, a barrel of acorn squash caught my eye. Having never eaten, or cooked with one before, I decided to pick one up and try it for dinner.

That was the easy part of the night. I dragged some leftovers – a bunch of kale, an apple, a few mushrooms – out from the fridge, but  nearly every recipe for stuffed acorn squash called for quinoa. I have a huge variety of grains on hand, but quinoa is not one of them.

Fortunatey, my roommate was simultaneously embarking on a mission to make banana bread, and needed to borrow a few key ingredients from my pantry, giving me the perfect opportunity to barter. Some flour and baking soda for a quarter cup of quinoa.

That hurtle conquered, it was the decision-making I struggled with next. I couldn’t tell which combination I was craving more – an earthy stuffing with kale and mushrooms, rustic Italian herbs and carmelized onions, or something tarter, crisper, with apples and coriander and cider.

This, my friends, is what led to the recipe we have here. Acorn squash stuffed two ways, with subtle recipe tweaks that make it easy to make both, without the extra dish.

After you salt and pepper the squash, make sure to remember to turn it face down in the pan, filled with cider, water and onions. The water bath maintains moisture, while allowing the squash to cook at a lower heat.

To start, halve the squash and scoop out the insides. Refer to my post on spaghetti squash for a more detailed how-to on de-pulping squash.  Salt and pepper the flesh, before placing face-down in a baking dish. Fill the pan with the apple cider and water. Disperse the onion throughout, making a bath to roast the squash in.

As the squash bakes, cook your quinoa. Boil a pot of water, a little over 1/2 a cup, while you rinse the dry kernels. A thorough rinse in a collander while remove the bitter, waxy coating from the quinoa. Once the water has begun to bubble, add the quinoa and lower the temperature. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

After the squash is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, begin working on the stuffing. Heat half a teaspoon of oil in a saucepan, and pour in approximately half of the baking liquid and onions (see a little warning below), and allow that to simmer. For the first half of the squash, sautee your diced apple with half the coriander and the ginger. Continue cooking until most of the vinegar has burned off and the apples are soft and golden brown. Then, add in the kale, and cook until it has softened. At the last minute, stir in half of the quinoa, so that it absorbs the flavors from the mix. Stuff one half of the squash, and keep the remainder to serve underneath.

In the same pan, repeat the process, adding the mushrooms to the remaining baking-liquid, onions, coriander, kale, oil and quinoa. Flavor this mix with basil, fresh if you have it on hand.

Nearly the same ingredients, with a few basic tweaks, to create two very separate flavor profiles.

I’m very grateful that my roommate lent me a some of her quinoa – the slightly crunchy texture is a perfect contrast to the sweet, soft baked squash.

A Little Warning: Add the baking liquid slowly, tasting as you go.  The onions have absorbed a lot of the vinegar, and it will be retained in the squash, too. Better to leave a little leftover than pour two complete halves in and have the acidity be too potent.

This dish is one of my favorites from the season – and, it is a perfect continuation of my celebration of vegan month. A healthy, lo-cal, vegan dinner that is perfectly seasonal and entirely cruelty-free.

Until next time, I’m off to find another little bite!

Melanie

 

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