Stuffed Acorn Squash
Thanksgiving is a day to come together with family and friends and celebrate the way that love transcends time or distance. Holiday food is usually rife with meaning and tradition; the image of the huge Roast Turkey dinner that Norman Rockwell painted has embedded itself into the hearts of Americans since it first entered the public consciousness in 1943. But times and dietary needs change. We increasingly have family members with specific preferences or needs, like vegans and vegetarians, who stay away from turkey and other meats. Does that mean we love them less? No. Does it mean we can't make room for them at the table? No. Does it mean we should look at new dishes that allow us all to come together and celebrate, with or without a piece of turkey on the plate? Yes, it sure does.
We chose to stuff acorn squash here to showcase its versatility in the kitchen and its edible potential. For starters, it’s a self-contained serving bowl. That's kind of neat. Get the squash going early, so give it a good rinsing and prep it for the oven. To make sure your squash stands properly on your roasting sheet, cut it across the bottom so it’s nice and flat. Then they can balance themselves without wobbling. It's got to roast for about 45 minutes on its own before the stuffing goes in, so rub it all over with olive oil and put it in the oven, so it can get deliciously soft and sweet.
Now that you've got a bowl cooking, you can get a little creative with the filling. We made ours with red quinoa that we cooked and dressed up in its holiday best. We sauteed up some great, flavorful vegetables, like carrots, onion, and baby bella mushrooms, and seasoned them with a little of our Flippin' the Bird seasoning blend. Flippin' the Bird contains a great range of flavors; it has paprika, onion, chili powder, lemon, granulated honey, sage, marjoram, black pepper and celery seed. Because it’s salt-free, it gives you the opportunity to season to your own unique tastes. It has a little bit of subtle sweetness from granulated honey, and a delicate herbal and earthy flavor from sage and celery seed. With bright lemon zest to finish, it’s a perfect complement for foods that might need a little something extra.
Fresh cranberries gave our filling just the right amount of zip, and we recommend using them fresh or frozen. Dried snack cranberries are loaded with sugar and can be short on sour tang. Add enough sugar on your own to make them pop for your palate. You probably need less than you'd think. After your filling has been made and your squash has mostly cooked, spoon the stuffing into the squash and put it back into the oven for about 15 minutes, so the ingredients can all cook together.
Our stuffed acorn squash was given the hearty thumbs-up from our taste testers. The stuffing is full of flavor and this dish is super filling, which is why we suggest serving just half a squash as a portion size. We garnished the squash with some sliced green scallions which added a nice fresh crunch to the dish. And did you know the skin of the acorn squash is edible? You can literally make this meal completely disappear. This is a great vegetarian main dish or a perfect side dish for any of your favorite autumn dinners.
- 1 Cup dry red quinoa, cooked as per directions
- 3 Acorn squash
- 3 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Cup onion, diced
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced
- ½ Cup celery, diced
- ½ Cup carrot, diced
- 2 Cups Baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
- ½ Cup Cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 Tbsp Flippin
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Optional: scallions to garnish
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Cut the top and bottom off of each squash. You want them to be able to stand up, so the bottoms need to be flat. Cut in half, and scoop out seeds and membranes and discard.
- Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut side up. Brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place squash in oven, and roast for 35-40 minutes. Check for tenderness with a fork.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions, set aside.
- In a deep skillet, or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Add garlic, mushrooms, cranberries, and Flippin' the Bird. Cook for another 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked quinoa and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Stuff the squash with the filling and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
- Garnish with scallions and serve!