Fall Flavor Fest: Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

November 18, 2009 in Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Entrees

I literally bought some pomegranates on impulse the other day as I was stocking up on squash from the glorious display at Wegman’s. I had no specific plans for them, but decided I wanted to experiment with adding them into a savory dish – preferably one involving one of the squashes I just procured (I’m gripped by something of a fixation at the moment).

As it turns out, they’re a wonderful accompaniment in this stuffed squash recipe, like juicy little jewels, adding tart little bursts of flavor that pairs nicely with the mellow, sweet spice of the stuffing. It also adds some great fiber and antioxidant action to an already highly nutritious dish – but don’t even think about that part. Just enjoy. This would be a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving table, but especially for a vegetarian or vegan affair.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH WITH MOROCCAN QUINOA & POMEGRANATE STUFFING

4 acorn squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt and fresh black pepper (plus more to taste)
1/2 cup water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts or coarsely chopped cashews
1 onion, diced
8 ounces baby bella (crimini) or button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
pinch of ground cloves
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup currants
seeds of 1 pomegranate (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut squashes in half, scooping out the seeds, and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh pepper. Place face down on a roasting pan, pouring 1/2 cup water into the reservoir below the rack (you could also use a wire cooling rack in a large baking dish, or even a rimmed baking sheet, to elevate the squash). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until tender.

While squash is baking, bring the vegetable broth up to a boil. Add quinoa and bay leaves, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and the germ is visible in a ring around each grain. Remove from heat , fluff with a fork and remove bay leaves, set aside.

Heat a large dry skillet and toast the pine nuts or cashews, shaking pan frequently, until turning golden and fragrant. Remove nuts to let cool. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and over medium heat sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Stir for about 5  minutes, until mushrooms have softened. Transfer mushroom mixture and quinoa to a large mixing bowl and add the pine nuts, lemon zest, currants, another teaspoon of the salt and pepper (or more to taste) and a bit more than half the pomegranate seeds. Mix well.

Turn squashes over so they’re cut-side-up, and reposition on rack in roasting pan or baking dish. Scoop filling into cavities of each, piling it nice and high (you may have a bit of filling leftover, depending on the size of the squashes – keep it for a snack). Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining pomegranate seeds.

– posted by Anne

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