Hazelnut and Quinoa Stuffed Squash
There's something about stuffing vegetables that really makes them a worthy centerpiece dish. I've also always had a soft spot for using real food as the serving vessel, such as the rind of the squash in this case. This is one of those just plain nourishing recipes, filled with whole grains, whole veggies and not a lot of extra fat.
The recipe is based on one from Robin Asbell's beautiful The New Whole Grains Cookbook, in which she concentrates on such grains as farro, quinoa, brown rice, and barley, among others, and explores ways to put them to work for each and every meal of the day from breakfast and desserts to sides and main dishes. Most recipes are also accompanied by a lovely color photograph, which is always a plus in my book. If you don't happen to have the grain she calls for, she usually provides whole grain substitutes, so that no recipe is undoable based on availability. As might be expected, the focus is not just on whole grains, but on whole foods, in general. Ms. Asbell is coming out with a vegetarian cookbook this fall, and if she's able to make whole grains so amazingly tasty, imagine what she's going to do with everything else! I can't wait.
I did change this recipe around a bit, however. I substituted quinoa for the wild rice because I happen to be addicted to the stuff, and because Asbell says that's okay. I also used hazelnuts instead of pecans because I had them, and, well, I'm cheap.
Hazelnut and Quinoa-Stuffed Winter Squash
2 small winter squashes
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water (I've adjusted these measurements for quinoa instead of rice)
3 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 celery stalks, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped (I only had a very small onion, so I added a sli
ced green onion as well)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hazelnuts, ground
Oven preheated to 400, grease a baking sheet, cut your squash in half the long way, remove the seeds and bake, cut side down, for 20-30 minutes. Let the squash cool and reduce the oven to 375.
I used a 2-quart sauce pan to cook the quinoa, which is only slightly different from cooking rice. Just use 1 parts quinoa to 2 parts water, so in this case 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water. Add both to the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer (low heat), cover and allow to cook 10-15 minutes. Mine took 12.
In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the celery, onion(s) and sage until softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg and salt, cook briefly then remove from the heat.
Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the insides into a large bowl. Leave enough of the shell intact to hold its shape and the filling. Mash the squash with a fork or potato masher and mix it with the cooked quinoa and the sautéed mixture. Add the nuts. Stuff the mixture back into the squash shells, top with any reserved nuts and return to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the stuffing is firm. Done!