Recipe provided by Ashley Combs, Dietetic Intern
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
3 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
⅓ cup dried cranberries
1 pound ground turkey (or beef, chicken, or omit to make vegetarian)
⅓ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
⅓ cup chopped green onion
⅓ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus some for garnish
2 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta (optional)
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large, rimmed baking sheet, or you can line it with parchment paper for easier clean-up.
2) Prepare the squash by taking a sharp knife and cutting each squash in half from the tip to the stem (slicing just next to the stem). Scoop out the seeds and strings inside to throw away or compost.
3) Place the squash halves cut side up on the prepared pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt over the entire pan of squash. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are down. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the flesh of the squash has become golden and is easily pierced with a knife. Leave the oven on.
4) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 12 to 18 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let the mixture steam until ready to use.
5) In a large skillet, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then add the ground turkey and break it into small pieces. Cook for about 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Season the cooked turkey with about ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and then transfer to a large bowl.
6) In a skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently. The pepitas will turn golden and will make little popping noises, which takes about 4 to 5 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and set aside to let cool.
7) Uncover the quinoa and fluff it with a fork. Pour the quinoa and cranberry mixture into the large bowl with the turkey. Add the toasted pepitas, chopped green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
8) If adding the Parmesan cheese and goat/feta cheese, let the mixture cool first for a few minutes before adding the cheese mixture. Then gently stir to combine.
9) Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Spoon and evenly distribute the quinoa mixture into each squash cavity. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cheesy quinoa is turning golden on top.
10) Garnish the stuffed squash with more chopped parsley and serve warm.
11) To store your stuffed squash, wait until cooled to room temperature and keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 4 days. To keep for longer, place cooled stuffed squash in a freezer bag or container and keep in the freezer for up to 10 months.
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