Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know those meals that just taste like the season you’re in? Well, I know this dish doesn’t contain the popular kids at the moment (apples or pumpkins), but this Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash absolutely oozes autumnal flavors! The cranberries, sage and maple infuses the quinoa mixture that you then stuff the roasted acorn squash with- just heavenly! Did I mention I added cumin spiced ground turkey as a protein? Oh ya! This is optional, of course. I will definitely be making this again before fall is over, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (any color- I used tricolor)
  • 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Fresh sage (about 10 leaves)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken-less seasoning from TJs (or a blend of sea salt, onion and garlic powder, turmeric, celery seed, ginger powder, and pepper)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.. Cut the very ends of each squash, but not too deep. This is meant to stabilize the squash to sit upright in the oven. Continue by cutting the squash in half, parallel to the cut you just made. Scoop out the middle with seeds- enough to stuff but not too much so you have enough squash to dig into!
  2. Brush the squash liberally with olive oil, then season with a few pinches of salt and grinds of black pepper.
  3. Roast for 40 minutes, or until a fork easily breaks the meat.
  4. While that’s cooking, bring a medium sized pot with 2 3/4 cups water to a boil. Rinse 1 cup quinoa then add to boiling water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or whatever the package instructions reads. Once done, drain in colander and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Warm 1 large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. When warmed, add the sliced onions. Cook for 3-4 minute before adding the ground turkey, followed by the cumin, chicken-less seasoning (or alternative), and cinnamon. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes (or when turkey is nearly cooked but not completely), stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the sliced (chiffonade) sage, cranberries and garlic. Let cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
  7. Add this turkey mixture in the quinoa, along with 2 tsp maple syrup. Mix well.
  8. When the acorn squash is done. Remove from the oven. Stuff each squash with quinoa mix. Crumble feta on top of each before serving (I also added a few pieces of fresh sage for an elevated kick!), and you’ve got yourself an amazing fall dish!

*NOTE* Acorn squash vary in size, and the room you have for the quinoa mixture also depends on the hole you scooped. If the well is smaller then you’d like, add some quinoa mixture on the side for more bites! Omgosh it’s soooo good. Bon Appetit!

Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart

I told you I’m back! Two recipes shared within 3 days warrants a happy dance. *actively breaking it down*. Now that I’ve embarrassed myself in front of my apartment building neighbors across the way, I am proud to introduce you to this wonderful spring recipe. After researching what fruits and vegetables are in season in Illinois in May, the two veggies that stuck out to me were asparagus and peas. I really wanted to capture spring in a savory dish with these limited fresh green goodies, so I came up with a Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart (that I am ready to share with you today) and Minty Pea Hummus (which I hope to share with you later this week).

Let’s start with asparagus nutrition facts. “The bright-green veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber” (Health). Both the soluble and insoluble fiber asparagus contains can aid in digestion, gut health, and even weight management/loss. Aside from the plethora of minerals and vitamins just listed, asparagus also possesses a large amount of antioxidants, making it a free radical fighter. As mentioned in the linked article, it can also improve your urinary tract by acting as a diuretic and even be labeled as an aphrodisiac- need I say more. 😉

So, the recipe below was developed with a budget in mind and easy assembly. I taste tested it two times and also got the hard-to-please-junk-food-loving husband on board. It’s great to make as a side dish, light lunch, or to bring to a casual spring get together. Let me know what you think after you try it out!

Lemon Honey Asparagus Tart

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Prep time: 40 minutes

Total bake time: 25-30 minutes

Yields: 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 24 oz container of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • thyme sprigs
  • whole wheat puff pastry
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9″ pie or tart pan with oil of choice (I used coconut oil spray).
  2. Measure 2 cups of the cottage cheese and add to a colander/strainer. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes to drain excess liquids. While this is draining, you may work on the crust.
  3. After allowing your puff pastry to defrost, carefully unroll the log to avoid cracking/breaking of the sheets. Line your pan with one thin sheet at a time, folding the overhanging crust inward. Lightly coat this and every layer with olive oil- just enough to cover but not enough to saturate the dough and make it soggy. Repeat 7-10 times. (I only added 6 layers and it wasn’t thick enough).
  4. Once you’ve completed layering and laminating (adding fat in between dough layers), place a pot that fits on top of the bottom of the crust to keep it from rising in the oven. You may use anything heavy enough to do so that is oven safe.
  5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until just crisp on the bottom. The color should be the lightest golden hue.
  6. While this is baking, you will have time to blend the filling. Add 2 cups of the drained cottage cheese, 2 Tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and the juice of 1/2 a large lemon to your blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Remove the lid and take a big whiff- aren’t you surprised with the intoxicating aroma?! Yes, you may try some, but don’t eat too much! 😉
  7. Remove crust from the oven when done and let cool. In the meantime, boil water with a touch of salt and blanch your asparagus stalks. I used thicker asparagus stalks, so I lightly peeled the lower surface and cut off the bottom, woody ends (the last 1 1/2 inches). I blanched them for 4 minutes and let them cool in an ice bath with cold running water. Pat the asparagus dry when cooled.
  8. When the crust is cooled, add the filling in the middle and smooth out the top. Neatly line the asparagus and lightly press into the filling, about halfway in. Generously sprinkle the top with thyme (I pull mine off with my nails against the growth to easily remove the leaves from the sprigs). Feel free to add a squirt of lemon juice for good measure and extra flavor!
  9. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are a golden brown.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!

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