The holidays are always a great time to gather your loved ones to sit down for a huge home-cooked meal, but it does place a tremendous amount of pressure on you to come up with a menu that will appease everyone, including those with dietary restrictions.
Let’s start with one of the staples like stuffing. Typically made with bread cubes and sausage or turkey, and then cooked inside of the turkey. Not exactly gluten-free or vegetarian friendly, so I’ve come up with a delicious solution that combines some of my favorite fall ingredients. A simple mix of quinoa, sauteed kale, shallot, cranberries, and toasted pumpkin seeds baked inside of a butterkin squash that then creates a beautiful and natural serving dish.
It comes off looking elegant and complex, but only takes minimal effort and can even be prepared the night before, leaving you with more time to spend with your guests. While it may not be your traditional “Stove-Top” style stuffing, it provides everyone something new to look forward to at your holiday meals.
(makes 8 servings)
2 butterkin or 2 large acorn squash
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
Half of a large shallot (roughly 1/4 cup), finely chopped
2 cups of lightly packed fresh kale, torn into small pieces
2 Tbs water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup almond slivers
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 Tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (leave out to make vegan-friendly)
**For photos I only used one squash, but mixture is more than enough to fill two butterkin or two large acorn squash.
If using a butterkin squash, cut around the top just like you would to carve a Jack o’ lantern. Remove top (save for later) and scoop out seeds and stringy insides and then place squash on a baking sheet. You’ll also need to cut a little off of the underside of your top. Again, just like making a Jack o’ lantern. If using acorn squash, cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place halves on baking sheet and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed and quinoa is fully cooked.
While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil over low-medium heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add shallot and kale, sauteing for 1-2 minutes.
Add two tablespoons of water and simmer for 1-2 more minutes. Add dried cranberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, parsley, thyme, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding to your cooked quinoa. Stir in parmesan cheese (optional) and then transfer mixture into prepared squash.
If you’re using the butterkin squash you’ll simply put the lids on, but if you’re using acorn squash you can just cover the four halves with foil. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork.
If you’re making this the night before, follow all of the instructions up until baking it. Just cover and refrigerate until the next day. An hour out from serving time, heat oven to 400 degrees F and place squash in the oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove lids or foil, fluff stuffing with a fork, add a serving spoon, and serve!
Thank goodness it makes a lot because they’ll be back for seconds!
Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!