Winter squash stuffed with lentil and quinoa
Temperatures dropped to zero today so I think it is officially cold. All the flowers on the patio are dead but surprisingly there is beauty even in death and I photographed some of the hydrangeas that turned amber-brown and are so delicate and beautiful even now. Some of the herbs are persevering, the thyme, rosemary, tarragon and sage. The various basil plants have succumbed to the cold as did some of the other more delicate herbs.I dried some of the herbs for use over the winter and placed them in little metal containers. Now I have to remember they are there. The herb garden is what I miss the most in my kitchen over the winter. How I love to step outside, clip this herb or that, wash it and add to whatever I happen to be cooking. The flavours fresh herb introduce to a dish are unsurpassed.
As my kitchen is transitioning to late fall and winter cooking I am buying squashes, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, chards and other fall produce. Winter squashes are among my favourite and I roast them, make them into soup, add them to winter salads or incorporate them into baked items such as pancakes, waffles or cakes.
Winter squashes are also a natural container to fill with grains. legumes and vegetables. If they are small enough for individual serving I may bake them and serve without any stuffing, just with a drizzle of butter, honey and maybe a few chopped candied nuts. When I bake the squash I don’t necessarily scoop out the flesh. I like scooping some of the flesh with the stuffing, spoon by spoon. Today though I had the lentil quinoa dish I made yesterday, with chopped kale, shredded carrots, pumpkin seeds and candied hazelnuts and wanted to fill the squash with this and serve them individually. The squash I had on hand is Sweet Lightening, sweet fleshed variety with creamy white skin and yellowish stripes sponged down it’s sections. It’s a very pretty one and it has been sitting in a bowl on my counter for a while looking pretty until it was time to recruit it for dinner.
I cut off the top of the squash and removed the seeds, scraped them out with a spoon. I brushed it with a little melted butter (or not, place the “lid” back on and roasted it in the over for about an hour until it was all soft and creamy inside. I then stuffed it, covered it and baked it a little longer at 350℉ to heat up the stuffing, or you can heat the stuffing in the microwave or on top of the stove and stuff it warm.
Serve it with a little oil-lemon-juice-agave syrup mixture for drizzling on top.
Note: the filling can be served on its own as a warm vegan dish with a green salad on the side.
2 small squashes, acorn, Sweet lightening, carnival, sweet dumpling etc.
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
1 cups green lentils ( can use can if you have to)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
5 stems black kale, chopped into thin ribbons horizontally
1/3 cup currants or another dried fruit, chopped in to small pieces.
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, dry toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon agave syrup
Cut of the top of each squash and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.
Place squashes on a foil line baking sheet, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Place the “lids” back on top of each squash.
Bake in a 400℉ oven for 45 minutes until the squash is cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside.
Rinse quinoa in cold water and drain. Place in a pot with 1.5 cups water and bring to a boil uncovered. Lower heat, cover with a lid and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes to allow it to fluff up.
Bring lentils to a boil with 3 cups water, lower heat and cook until lentils are cooked through but not mushy. remove from heat and drain excess water. set aside.
Chop the kale into small ribbons crosswise.
Heat up olive oil in a skillet, add carrots and cook until slightly softened.
Add kale and continue cooking until kale is cooked but still bright coloured.
Add as much of the quinoa and lentils as you need to fill up the squashes. You will not necessarily need the whole amount. Keep the rest for another use.
Add the currants or dried fruits.
Heat up the quinoa-lentils with the carrots and kale on low heat. If the skillet is dry add a little water.
Drizzle with additional olive oil, lemon juice and agave syrup to taste.
Season with salt, pepper.
Spoon the lentil-quinoa mixture into the cavity of each squash, heaping it up at the top.
You can warm it up in the microwave or in the oven, covered, if necessary.
serve warm with extra lemon wedge and agave syrup on the side.