Farm stands are filled with colorful squash and apples, just begging to be put together.
I love the sweet little winter squashes we find at this time of year. Delicata and Sweet Dumpling are my favorites. They just beg to be scooped out and filled with something delectable! And, if you can’t find these, you can substitute acorn or other favorite squash. You could even stuff a larger squash using all the filling if you like, think butternut! It would make a pretty presentation for a dinner party, and a great side or vegetarian entree for the holidays.
Use what you’ve got!
I’ve used brown rice and wild rice in the past, but had a batch of quinoa in the refrigerator left over from another meal. The squash had been sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days, so I looked around and found beans in the pantry, apples in the fruit bowl, parsley in the herb bed, and cherry tomatoes dripping from their spindly looking skeletons in the garden.
You can use any grain in this dish, any bean, any tomato, any nut or seed (even the squash seeds itself, toasted), and any apple. The apple is essential to this dish, so don’t leave it out! That pop of sweet is a nice relief from the rest of the ingredients.
Spice it up, it’s Autumn!
Play with the spices if you like, but use something warm and flavorful to fit the season. As the weather chills, I want more and more warm spices and heat. A curry would be delightful here, as would a five spice. The ras el hangout here is a combination of many warm spices: coriander, cumin, fennel seed, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, anise, cardamom ginger, nutmeg, and turmeric. You can use a blend, or create your own mix! These are all my favorites, so I always have a jar on the shelf.
Quinoa & Apple Stuffed Sweet Dumplings
4 sweet dumpling squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, fine mince
1 tsp. ras el hanout
1 tsp. sweet paprika
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine, stock, or water
1 15-ounce can chick peas, rinsed
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
1 apple, diced
4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the top off the squash, replace the top, and place on a baking sheet. Pop in the oven Until the squash is softened enough to remove the seed core. I had large squash, so it took about 50 minutes, adjust for size.
When just tender, scoop out the seed cavities and set aside along with the tops.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high and add the onion. Sauté until the onion is soft and fragrant.
Add the garlic, and spices. Reduce the heat, stir everything together and let cook for five minutes or so. It should be beautifully fragrant.
Deglaze with the wine or liquid, and scrape the pan well with a flat wooden spoon.
Add the chick peas, quinoa, pine nuts, and apple cider vinegar. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the parsley and apple. Taste and correct salt and pepper.
Fill the squash, a generous half cup per.
Add sliced cherry tomatoes to the top of each, place the squash top back on, and return to the oven.
Bake for another 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes.
Top with Luscious Lemon Sauce, below, and serve with a side salad.
Luscious Lemon Sauce
You can make this with homemade mayonnaise, your favorite jarred, or vegan mayonnaise. It will keep a few days, and is delicious topping lots of different foods!
3/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. finely minced parsley
Pinch of cayenne, optional
2 tbsp. fresh lemon Juice
Zest of one large lemon or two small
1 – 2 tsp. maple syrup or agave syrup, depending on what you like
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Mix well, and serve.
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