There is something irresitable about the lovely colors of fall squash. Bright greens and oranges, smooth tans, variegated or monochrome, I am always pulled to pick one up, even if I have other plans for dinner. Luckily, squash waits patiently, brightening my kitchen counter with no worries of spoiling.
This beautiful specimen only waited a couple days before a snap of cold weather and a long day out (seeing Chihuly) left me with little energy to cook something up. My glass-filled brain came up with this dinner as we rode the subway home…hmmm, I have salad greens, but I want something warm. I have that squash. Ooo, I have quinoa, and raisins, and that Gruyere I need to use! Voila! The birth of a dinner idea.
At home quinoa quickly morphed into a pilaf stuffing while the squash and some baby sweet potatoes roasted, shortly thereafter stuffed squash halves topped with cheese returned to the oven and a salad was whipped up to join them. Quick and easy! Here’s how I did it:
Quinoa Stuffed Carnival Squash – for two
- 1 carnival squash
- olive oil
- 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and sorted
- 3/4 c. broth
- 1/2 c. raisins
- 1/2 t. cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
- 1/4 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/4-1/2 c. Gruyere
1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
2. Cut the squash in half through the stem and de-seed. Coat inside lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in a small pan/dish, cut side down, and fill with 1/4″ water. Put in oven for 25 minutes. (If also roasting baby sweet potatoes, put them in a separate dish and put in the oven at the same time.)
3. Heat broth, add quinoa and raisins and cook covered until broth is gone. Quinoa will be “al dente” not soft. While quinoa cooks, toast pine nuts and grate cheese.
4. When quinoa is done, mix in pine nuts and half of cheese. Mix to will integrated.
5. Squash should be nearly done at this point – a knife should enter the flesh easily and the water should be evaporated. Pull it out, fill with pilaf stuffing and top with remaining cheese. Return to oven for 5 minutes. (You’ll have extra stuffing to serve as a side or for leftovers.)
6. Put together a simple salad with vinaigrette* and plate it. Squash (and potatoes) will be ready to serve!
*Note: my standard vinaigrette is one part vinegar, one and a half parts oil, a squeeze of brown mustard, a couple shakes of salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and some oregano. If I’m feeling spirited, I add a small clove of garlic and a little honey.
All together, it makes for a bright and festive fall meal!