From a Halloween Scare, some Thanksgiving Inspiration
There’s nothing like a Gestational Diabetes scare one week before Halloween–and having to chug 100g of pure sugar in 5 minutes flat for the blood test– to turn a pregnant woman off of sweets for a period of time. And although I passed the test (and my babies appeared to have enjoyed the sugar rush immensely) the thought of gorging myself on anything orange-colored and cloyingly sweet has sort of lost its appeal for me this year. So while the rest of the world is testing the upper limit of the glycemic index on Halloween, I’m treating myself to a delicious, savory and very righteous black-and-orange meal this year.
I decided on a black quinoa-stuffed acorn squash, both because the colors were right and because they are incredibly nutritious and delicious foods in their own right. (Subliminally, the fact that acorn squashes kind of look like mini pumpkins may have played a role, too.) Since I’m also on the hook to come up with a vegetarian entree option for our family’s Thanksgiving meal this year, I figured that developing this dish would give me a good practice run for the big day next month. It was the Thanksgiving angle that inspired the flavor profile of the quinoa stuffing, in fact. Why not stud it with Thanksgiving-stuffing-ish ingredients like savory sauteed onions, chestnuts, mushrooms, and sage to offset the sweetness of the squash? And why not top it with a garnish of roasted squash seeds while I was at it?
It was all sounding so delicious that for a moment I almost believed squash and quinoa could be the next classic Halloween combo–right up there with chocolate and peanut butter. (Alas, my husband assured me that it could not be, but conceded that it was damn delicious nonethless.)
Recipe: Black Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
3 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and stringy membranes scooped out and set aside.
1 cup black quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups diced mushrooms
1 cup diced peeled chestnuts (from a jar; equivalent of about 1/2 cup of whole chestnuts)
6 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
To garnish: Roasted acorn squash seeds (see instructions below)
- Roast the acorn squash as follows: using your hands, rub the exposed squash flesh (flat part as well as the scooped-out cavity) with a thin layer of olive oil and sparse sprinkle of salt. Place squash halves flesh side up on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until the flesh is soft and cooked through. (Depending on your oven and the size of the squash, this may take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, so keep an eye on them. ). When squash halves are roasted, remove from heat and set aside.
- While squash is roasting, cook the quinoa as per package directions and set aside when done.
- While squash is roasting and quinoa is cooking prepare the vegetables as follows:
- Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large saute pan; when hot, add minced onion and cook until it starts to soften and become translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds
- Add the minced mushrooms and chestnuts to pan, stir constantly until vegetables are well-blended and mushrooms cook down
- Add the minced sage leaves and thyme leaves; stir until blended.
- Add the cooked quinoa to the vegetable mixture in the saucepan and stir until well-blended.
- Add salt to taste
- Fill the hollowed-out squash with quinoa/vegetable mixture
- Garnish with roasted acorn squash seeds (see directions below) and serve!
Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds
- Rinse seeds in a colander under running water to remove excess flesh/stringy membranes.
- Spread clean seeds on a paper towel and allow to dry thoroughly
- When dry, toss seeds with just enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt
- Spread seeds out on a baking tray so that they’re not overlapping
- Bake for 15 minutes at 275 degrees (preferably in a counter-top toaster oven, or until golden brown)