Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quinoa-Stuffed Carnival Squash with Cranberries and Pear

I'm sad to say that I actually forgot about this meal until pulling pictures off my camera not too long ago. This dish was part of my Thanksgiving Week of Deliciousness, and I drew inspiration from several recipes like these three.

Somewhere I read that you can roast squash whole, then scoop out the insides after everything is tender and easy to scoop. For the life of me, I can't remember (or find) whether that was in Cooking Light, Real Simple, or on one of the many food blogs I read. But I gave it a shot for this recipe.

I initially planned to use acorn squash for this recipe, but the carnival squash were so pretty in the store, and I'd never tried carnival squash before. I remember being underwhelmed by the squash part of this dish, but I'm not sure if 1) carnival squash isn't great, 2) it normally is but this particular one wasn't, or 3) the roasting method was to blame.

Isn't she a beauty?
But the filling was great! A nice variety of colors, flavors, and textures, and cozy and cool-weather-appropriate. The cranberries were a bit too tart, so I'd recommend sprinkling them with a bit of sugar and/or roasting them for a few minutes.

Quinoa-Stuffed Carnival Squash with 
Cranberries and Pear

Yield: 2 servings

1 carnival or acorn squash
1/4 lb. ground turkey sausage
1/3 to 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup quinoa
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 pear, chopped
1/8 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1-2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. shredded pepper Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash the squash and place the whole thing--no cuts or anything--into the oven. You can place it directly on the rack. Roast for 25 minutes, until softened. When it's finished, remove from the oven, and cut in half (stem to belly button) and allow to cool for a few minutes before scooping out seeds and stringy insides.

Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa and cook according to package directions. To toast the walnuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, shaking occasionally, until toasted and fragrant.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add walnuts, cranberries, pear, sage, thyme, parsley, and cooked quinoa; cook until warmed through. Stir in cheeses and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in egg white.

Place the squash halves on a pan and fill with the quinoa mixture. Return to the oven and roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, until tops are toasted and egg is cooked.

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