Friday, February 13, 2009

Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Quinoa, Dried Fruit and Nuts

If you have been reading this blog from time to time, you know I'm no vegetarian. But sometimes a meatless meal is a nice change from ham, sausage, pork chops... Anyway, I came up with this recipe as a vegan entree for festive holiday meals. Quinoa is a superfood of sorts in that it has a very high amount of complete protein, so it's all you need. This recipe does have that 1970s Rodale Cookbook feel, but it's a great winter dish anyway. Just don't serve it with steamed brown bread.

Ingredients: 2 acorn squash, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 cup dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, currants, cherries are all good), 1 diced onion, pinch of sage, pinch of thyme, cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 2-3 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut.

  • Halve each squash and scoop out the seeds (The truly frugal will roast those for later snacking. I will not).
  • Slice just a little bit off the bottom of each half to make a flat surface
  • Roast open side down at 375 for about 45 minutes or until soft but still structurally sound
  • In a rice cooker, combine quinoa, fruit, onion, herbs, cinnamon and 1 cup vegetable stock or lightly salted water (you can of course make it on the stovetop, but maybe w/ more water)
  • Scoop out 1-2 tsp. of squash flesh and stir into the quinoa pilaf (this helps it hold together)
  • Sprinkle the coconut and pecans - you can spray a little oil to make it stick, and press the nuts in a little.
  • Bake at 375 for 30 minutes
Serves 4

Notes: The pre-roasting of the squash and the cooking of the quinoa pilaf can be done a day or two ahead. This is also good with curry powder. The natural sweetness of the squash and fruits may make you want to go all out and make this a sweeter dish. I haven't tried, but I will warn you that unsulphered apricots can get a little bitter and when cooked this way, so taste the pilaf before you stuff.

Frugal Factor: Hard to estimate on this because most of the ingredients are pantry items I usually buy a lot of. The squash were $3 for 2 at the discount produce; at $4/lb bulk, the quinoa would be $0.70, everything else was maybe $1.50. That's $1.30/serving.

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