Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

I am bound and determined to like quinoa.  The grain itself has done absolutely nothing to offend me.  However its partners in crime when paired in recipes always seem to leave something to be desired.  This recipe did NOT include the lemon/dill combination.  A huge plus.  And it is served up in its own little bowl of acorn squash.  Also a plus.  AND the heat of a habanerno...just what you need as the temperature dips below freezing.

Adapted from the recipe at We are not Martha.

Serves 2 with a whole lot of left over filling

The Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock 
1 Tbsp virgin olive oil 
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
2 habanero peppers, seeds, removed and finely chopped finely  
1 cup mushrooms, chopped 
2 cups fresh leaf spinach 
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 375.

Using a sharp knife, slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Sprinkle the cut half with salt and pepper and place a 1/2 Tbsp pad of butter into each half.  Place squash cut side up in a baking dish and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Rinse the quinoa.  In a medium saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock to a boil and whisk in the quinoa.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.   

While the quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and habanero.  Saute until slightly brown, 7-10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in lemon juice.

Reduce heat to low and stir in the quinoa.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally until spinach is just wilted.  Add the feta and parsley and stir to combine.   Keep warm until the acorn squash is done.

Spoon the quinoa mixture into the roasted acorn halves, mounding slightly.  Serve with a sprinkle of feta and parsley on top.

The Review:
This is a version of quinoa I adore and look forward to playing with in the future.  The two habaneros packed quite a punch leaving my noise running and tongue tingling, which I loved.  Others couldn't quite take the heat.  I may use serranos instead next time, and start with one. My mushroom averse husband was cranky about the rich fungus flavor, again an aspect I loved.  But yes, these is not a dish that hides the mushroom flavor well if you are trying to be sneaky.  Each flavor had it's moment from the earthy shrooms to the tang of the lemon, the kick of the pepper and the saltiness of the feta.  The squash offered a touch of sweetness while the quinoa blend everything together.  

I'm thinking leeks, red pepper spinach and pecan the next time around....

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