Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Moroccan Stuffed Squash

Thanks to my winter CSA, I've eaten seemingly countless different kinds stuffed squash, but I have to say this is my favorite. I've gotten a lot of recipes from tried and true sources, made up recipes on the spot with whatever I happened to have around, but The Sprouted Kitchen is my latest cookbook obsession because of perfect recipes like this one. The first stroke of genius is cooking the quinoa in coconut milk, something I'm ashamed I never thought to do myself. It makes the quinoa unbelievably creamy and the crunch of the pistachios and pop of the pomegranate seeds have the perfect textural contrast. These same elements also contrast each other beautifully in flavor - subtly rich coconut milk quinoa is the perfect canvas for tart pomegranate seeds, rich pistachios, salty feta cheese and fresh herbs. I happen to think that combination of nuts, fruits, cheese, and herbs is paragon of flavor, but feel free to swap out any of these elements for others than strike your fancy. By far the most interesting collection of ingredients I've ever had the pleasure of stuffing into a squash, this dish is sure to appear on my dinner table until my bounty of squash is depleted.

Moroccan Stuffed Squash
adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
serves 4

2 medium acorn squash
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup quinoa
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon each ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin
1/4 cup thinly sliced preserved lemon peel or 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup feta cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Rub 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil on the cut sides of the squash halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and pierce the skin a few times with a fork. Roast 20 minutes. Flip them over and continue cooking until you can easily poke a knife through the flesh at its thickest part, another 10 to 20 minutes depending on its size. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. While the squash are cooking, rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Bring the coconut milk to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the quinoa; turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 15-18 minutes; then turn off the heat and let the quinoa steam in the saucepan for 5 minutes.

3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil, the paprika, coriander and cumin to the quinoa and toss to combine. Add the preserved lemon peel, mint, cilantro, orange juice, pomegranate seeds and feta and toss together. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary

4. Divide mixture between the squash halves. Garnish with a sprinkle of feta and the pistachios. Serve immediately.

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