One of my favorite things about fall is its iconic vegetables. I love all those funny-looking squashes and pumpkins that pop up in the store come September. They can be a little intimidating, but don't let their thick-skinned tough exterior fool you. They're all just softies on the inside. Winter squashes are starchy like potatoes because they're mostly carbohydrate (but wait!). Unlike starchy potatoes and other refined carbs that don't pack much else, these are loaded with antioxidents and are anti-inflammatory (double score). Their yellow-orange hues, just like citrus fruit, bell peppers and carrots, mean that they're high in carotenoids and vitamin C, giving your immune system a boost... just what we all need as the seasons change and the sniffles start. They're also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient that protects us from inflammation and helps keep us balanced. It's not as much as what you'd get from, say, walnuts or salmon, but there's a decent amount considering squashes are vegetables and low in fat.
Steam, stew, bake or roast them. The ways of preparing these suckers are endless. And it can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. In this recipe, all I did with the squash was cut it in half, longwise down the middle. Rub the insides with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and lay both sides face down on a baking sheet.
I'll leave you with the full recipe. And those brussels sprouts on the side are coming up next time...
Enjoy. Happy Fall!
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
What you need:
1 acorn squash, halved
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
What you do:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the seeds from the squash and brush the inside with 2 tbsp olive oil. Place squash face down on a foil covered baking sheet. Cook 20 minutes.
While the squash cooks, make the quinoa by first bringing 2 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Allow quinoa to cook and then add the currants, almonds, parsley, remaining oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. (Side note: I used red quinoa, but any variety will do. Red, black and white (the most common) are available at most health food stores. I like the black and red varieties because they are a little sturdier so they mix well for salads.)
Fill inside of squash with quinoa mixture and serve.
This recipe serves two, but will provide enough quinoa salad for up to eight servings. Roast a few more squashes to feed a crowd, or use the leftover quinoa mixture to add to a green salad for tomorrow's lunch. Just add spring mix and a bit more oil and vinegar. I'm all about the leftovers, and the short cuts. Cook once, eat twice!