Butternut squash stuffed with quinoa
Packed with nutrients, this healthy dish is quite satisfying.
Lately, quinoa has been on my mind. I like the versatile grain (seed, really). It's packed with protein, amino acids and minerals, and its earthy taste complements all vegetables. I like to substitute it for bulgur in tabbuleh, or cooked with garlic until it's fluffy. And as a basic filling for stuffed vegetables, it's hard to beat.
Here’s my butternut squash stuffed with quinoa. It’s a satisfying dish, giving you the comfortable feeling of having eaten well.
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt, pepper, cumin, and ground coriander seed – a few pinches of each
- 1/2 cup raw quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cilantro (coriander leaf) or parsley
- 1 small onion
- 4 halves of sun or oven-dried tomatoes, put to soak in 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
- The water from soaking the tomatoes
- More salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Optional: Parmesan cheese to grate over the finished dish
Preheat the oven to 350° F (190° C).
Cut the stem end off the squash; discard it. Slice the squash in half. Remove the seeds. Cut most of the flesh out; set aside.
Rub 1 teaspoon olive oil into the cavity of each half. Drop pinches of salt, cumin and coriander over the halves, and rub the spices in. Grind some fresh pepper over them.
Bake the squash halves, cut side up. They will need about 20 minutes.
Soak the dried tomatoes in a small bowl with the 3/4 cup hot water, for 5 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes from the water and save the water. Put the tomatoes aside.
Rinse the quinoa very well in running water, stirring and turning it over with your hand until you see no more “suds.” These suds are caused by bitter natural substances, saponins, that repel birds and insects in the field – and people at the table. Quinoa tastes good only if you rinse it before cooking.
Cook the quinoa with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the water from the tomatoes. Put it all into a small pot over a low flame, cover, and let it steam until it’s done – about 15 minutes.
Chop the flesh of the squash into 1/2-inch cubes.
Peel and dice the onion.
Rinse the cilantro or parsley and chop it up. (The photo above shows fresh nettles.)
Scissor or chop the tomatoes up coarsely.
Sauté the onions in a little olive oil, until they’re golden.
Add the chopped squash to the frying pan and cook, stirring often. The squash and onions should cook up within 15 minutes.
Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and the tomatoes. Stir. Cook until the greens are wilted.
Tip the contents of the frying pan into the pot where the quinoa cooked. Stir everything up well. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. You may like to dribble a little more olive oil into the mass.
Remove the squash halves from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them. At this point, the flesh should be tender and slightly charred.
Spoon the stuffing into the squash shells. Mound it up. If you wish to keep it dairy-free, the dish is now ready. But a generous amount of Parmesan cheese grated over the stuffed squash puts a great finish on it.
Eat with a spoon for scooping out the filling and the flesh of the squash.
The stuffed squash can be made ahead of time and reheated. Just wrap the halves in foil and pop them back into the hot oven for a few minutes.
Related Topics: Vegetarian