I was about to start by telling you that my favorite thing about fall is the arrival of all the amazing winter squash. But then I realized that was a bold-faced lie. My actual favorite thing about fall is the opportunity to finally wear the adorable baby winter gear I’ve been stockpiling since last season. Little hats, tiny jackets, and mini puffy vests. I am out of control, and I don’t care.
Even though the temps have dropped, we’ve been playing outside every day. It’s good for the soul, and the sinuses. We bundle up, run around and play peekaboo, fight over whether or not mulch-eating is allowed, and eventually the sunlight starts to fade (a little too early already if you ask me), and we retire back inside for a warm, hearty dinner.
So back to winter squash…(what?)
I love acorn squash in particular, because they can serve as individual vessels just waiting to be stuffed and baked.
These particular two are stuffed with slow-cooked onions and apples – perhaps two of my favorite things in life. A tip for parents: after cutting the tops off, I didn’t want to waste the extra squash, so I diced it up and steamed it quickly on the stovetop. Cullen gobbled it up for dinner while we waited for ours to finish baking!
Quinoa & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Ingredients (2 large servings)
2 large acorn squash
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 large onion, diced
1 large apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon orage champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon seat salt
balsamic glaze (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut a tiny slice off the bottom of each squash so that it can stand up on it’s own – just enough to stay upright.
Carefully trim the top of the squash off, which should expose a little pocket of seeds. Using a spoon (or grapefruit spoon – my personal favorite!), scoop the seeds and scrape the flesh clean.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt into each squash, and then place face-down in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until fork tender inside. While the squash bakes, prepare the filling. Rinse and cook quinoa (combined with 1 cup water) either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. Set quinoa aside.
In a large saute pan, cook one diced onion on medium heat until brown and softening. The more color you can develop (without burning, of course) the better. Slow-cooked onions add so much flavor!
Once the onion has cooked 10-15 minutes, add the diced apple and cook until soft. Add the cranberries and the cooked quinoa, and turn heat down to low.
Whisk olive oil, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt together into a dressing. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture, and continue to stir over low heat.
Once the acorn squash has cooked, flip them right side up and fill the squash with the quinoa mixture. Pack tightly in order to maximize the filling!
Bake 10-15 additional minutes, until the tops of the quinoa is golden and starting to get crispy.
Drizzle with balsamic glaze (you can make your own or get the amazing pre-made stuff from Trader Joe’s). If you don’t have glaze, you can also just sub balsamic vinegar, but don’t use quite as much – it’s a pretty powerful flavor.
These squash end up being a complete meal all in one dish – including the serving “bowl.” These would be fun to make for a dinner party – a good conversation piece. You can prep the squash and filling ahead of time, and just pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes to bake and re-heat once guests arrive.