Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quinoa and White Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and while that means I'll spend many hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing that meal, it also means that I don't have as much time for my regular eats in the days leading up to the big event. With crusts to be rolled, cranberries to be sauced, and birds to be brined, it's godsend to have a meal that spends much of its time unattended in the oven. Requiring little hands-on time without sacrificing flavor, this nutritional powerhouse is precisely what I needed to keep me on point rushing around house tackling chores.

Whenever I prepare dried beans or grains, I make big batches, portion them out, and store them in the freezer. This preparation leaves me without an excuse to skip a home-cooked meal and is what allowed me to put dinner on the table with a scant 20 minutes of effort on hectic weeknight. But even if I had to cook quinoa and drain a can of beans, it would be worth the effort. Those hearty ingredients blend with seamlessly with sweet squash, savory Parmesan, and fresh lemon, so though quite simple, it hits all the taste buds quite nicely and in lovely balance. For me this was fueling up for pre-Thanksgiving preparations, but if you're hosting someone who won't be partaking in the turkey, there's no reason not to break this out for the big event as well.

Quinoa and White Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash
adapted from HGTV
serves 2

1 acorn or festival squash
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup prepared white beans
1 ounce baby spinach (optional)
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice the acorn squash in half, from the tip to the bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the two pieces of squash on a baking sheet.

3. Divide the butter in half and place each pat of butter in the center of the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the baking dish to ensure that the bottom of the squash doesn't burn.

4. Place the squash in the oven and let it roast for 60-70 minutes until the insides of the squash are fork tender.

5. In a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until they are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the beans, quinoa, and spinach, if adding, and cook until greens are wilted and quinoa and beans are warmed through. Remove the skillet from heat, mix in half of the Parmesan cheese, and adjust seasoning as needed.

6. Place half of the quinoa mixture in each of the squash cavities. Sprinkle half of the remaining Parmesan on each squash half.

7. Place the squash back into the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, just until Parmesan cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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