We had our first frost last night. When I’m home this evening I’ll have to rescue the basil and turn most of it into pesto. But, for now, I want to share one of my new favorite recipes. I needed to clear out the vegetable bin and I was craving a healthy, heart, warming meal. I took stock of what we had, and starting throwing things in a pan…an unusual approach to cooking, for me. I like measurements and precision and details. Throwing ingredients together is more M’s style, which I appreciate. It’s nice to be surprised by how ingredients combine. So I was even more proud of myself when this toss-together dish turned out to be so delicious! This is what I had to work with:
Plus some quinoa and wild rice and a yellow onion I added later. I had purchased the sopressata (sausage) and the gouda in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Both are smoked, dry, and aged, strong additions to any grain salad. The peppers, onions, celery, and carrot were simple enough, a fairly common modified-mirepoix that we make. I wanted some sweetness to link to the basil and the acorn squash, which was begging to be paired with a flavorful, filling stuffing. An apple was the perfect bridge.
So, I set up the quinoa and wild rice to simmer while I preheated the oven. I cleared the seeds from the squash (rinse them clean, dried ’em, and roasted them up–perfection!) and rubbed the halves with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce. After tossing them into the oven, I diced up the onions, celery, and carrots, and finely diced the peppers, sausage, apple (coat with a few teaspoons of lemon juice to keep from browning), and gouda.
With a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet, I added the chopped carrots, celery, onion, peppers, and the white portion of the green onions, and cooked them until the onions turned translucent and all softened. Then I added the apple and cooked for a few minutes more, seasoning all with 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), and salt and pepper. I added 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil, warming enough to melt the butter before removing the pan from the heat and adding the cheese, sausage, quinoa, wild rice, almonds, green onions, and chopped basil. After stirring it all together, I ladle the mixture into the squash, pop it back in the oven for 20 minutes and serve.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am in loooove with this dish. The complex flavors still compliment one another, from the sweet, soft apple against the nutty wild rice, to the peppery bite of sopressata sausage and the spice squash. Plus, there’s the added benefit of knowing how healthy the dish is. I always feel better when I eat quinoa, and this dish is no exception. It was even better the next day, after the flavors settled even more. M and I finished this off within three days. I had grand plans for filling omelets with the mix, but, inevitably, I finished the serving before I could add this stuffing to any other dish. By itself, it is enough to make me smile (and chow down!) I think this would make an excellent, unique stuffing or dressing for Thanksgiving dinner! If you do not want to serve it in squash (despite the lovely presentation that makes), you can just serve it in a large casserole dish, with the addition of chopped squash or without. We will add this to our Christmas dinner list, since our Thanksgiving is already overwhelmed with stuffings, but, I wouldn’t be surprised if this dish becomes dinner again before then!
Autumn Harvest Stuffed Squash
For the Squash
- 1 large acorn squash, halved and de-seeded
- 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. coconut oil, melted and cooled
For the Stuffing
- 1/3 cup quinoa, toasted and well-rinsed
- 1/3 cup wild rice
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 large stalks celery, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium banana peppers, finely diced
- 1 small apple (honey crisp, gala, fuji, or granny smith), finely diced
- 2 green onions, diced, whites and greens separated
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) sopressata (or similar dry smoked sausage), finely diced
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) smoked gouda, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp (about 12 leaves) basil, chopped
- 1 Tbsp almonds, toasted and finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more for coating apple)
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. chinese 5 spice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt & pepper
- Optional: 1/4-1 tsp cayenne pepper (I would have loved a little more heat!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set wild rice to cook according to package directions. Toast dry quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Rinse quinoa well in fine-mesh sieve, then cook according to package directions. Rub squash with mixture of coconut oil, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce, set to roast in oven for 1 hour. Dice vegetables, nuts, herbs, and apple. Coat apple with lemon juice to keep from browning.
Coat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add diced onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and whites of green onion, cook until softened. Add apple and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with all spices, olive oil, butter, and lemon juice, then add remaining ingredients (green portions of green onions, cheese, sausage, garlic, almonds, basil). Stir to combine. Add quinoa and wild rice, mix thoroughly, and spoon into cooked squash. Place stuffed squash back into oven and heat through for 20 additional minutes. Serve.
Variations: Remove skin from squash, dice, and stir into stuffing mixture.