Today I spent most of the day snacking on dried apricots so juicy and delicious that they tasted like little bites of summer itself. They were part of a tray brought back from Armenia that was overflowing with artfully arranged pieces of apricot, apple, pear, peach, date, and very tasty churchkhela, a Caucasian confection made repeatedly dipping strings of walnuts in thickened, sweetened grape juice. However, by the time I left work, the weather had turned cold and rainy, and I decided something heartier needed to be on the menu, so I decided to stuff some squash.
I had these adorable individual-sized winter squashes from the market. I cut off the tops and a little of the bottoms, cleaned them out (reserving the seeds*), rubbed the insides with olive oil, and roasted them at 350 degrees F until tender. While they were cooking I made the filling.
*The seeds from other winter squashes can be roasted, just like pumpkin seeds (butternut seeds are particularly good). I like to toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder and roast them at 350 degrees F until they start to pop.
For the filling:
- Saute half a large sweet onion in 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan.
- When the onion is transparent, add 1/2 cup quinoa and stir to toast.
- After a minute or two, add 1 and 1/2 cup vegetable broth or stock. Stir occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes until the quinoa is mostly cooked.
- Add a minced garlic clove and 1/8 to 1/4 cup pine nuts. After a few minutes add 1/4 cup frozen spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until warm.
When filling is done, spoon it into the squash shells, alternating with spoonfuls of goat cheese. Top with goat cheese an a sprinkle of parmesan. Put the squash back into the oven until the the cheese begins to melt and brown.
I served the squash with the leftover filling on the side. Ian also got a pan-fried (in olive oil) chicken breast coated simply with salt and pepper. Quinoa is very high in protein, so I didn’t feel the need to eat anything else.
The dinner was very good. I love the nutty quinoa, but it was not Ian’s favorite. He said he would rather have couscous; I think it was a texture thing. All in all it was quite filling and not unhealthy. Squash season is wrapping up, but I can see stuffing summer vegetables with a similar mixture.