My mom has been one of my greatest sources of inspiration when it comes to cooking. Growing up, she was always in the kitchen create new meals and trying new recipes. So it’s only natural that those qualities would eventually rub off on me. Now, all grown up and living on my own, I find myself in the kitchen most weekends experimenting with new recipes I find online or in magazines, and figuring out new ways to reinvent them. What’s really wonderful is to be able to share and exchange our new discoveries. I speak with my mom on the phone almost every day and I don’t think there isn’t one day that goes by that there isn’t a new recipe mentioned by one of us.
The other day, I was at my mom’s for dinner, and in true mom style, dinner consisted of a new recipe. Stuffed acorn squash was on the menu. I love squash but have always stuck the butternut or spaghetti. Trying a new type of squash was very exciting. This recipe had all the comforts of a winter recipe, but with the healthier twist of it being vegetarian with the added protein kick of quinoa. Each bite is creamy with a slight spicy kick. So delicious that I had to recreate it for myself and share it with all of you. Thanks mom!
Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 red bell pepper
2 small acorn squash
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp harissa
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 golden raisins
3/4 cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Start by roasting the red pepper. Slice the pepper in 4 pieces, drizzle a little olive oil on top and place on an aluminium foil-lined baking sheet, skin side up. Place the rack in the oven on the top, and place the baking sheet under the broiler until the peppers have blackened, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Once cooled, you’ll be able to easily remove the skin. Chop the roasted pepper and set aside.
2. For the squash, start by placing the rack in the centre of the oven and preheating your oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Cut each squash length-wise, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Place on the baking sheet cut side down and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush lightly with honey.
3. While the squash is roasting, add the quinoa and 1 cup of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until they begin to brown. Add the harissa and mix well. Add the quinoa, roasted red pepper, half the walnuts and golden raisins. Mix well to combine and heat evenly. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Divide the quinoa mixture among the four squashes and top with the remaining cheese and walnuts. Pop back in the oven for another 10 minutes, to reheat and allow the cheese to melt and get all gooey.
[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]