Thanksgiving is almost here and I’m ready for it to arrive. Case-in-point, I have been working away on new recipes and this roasted acorn squash with quinoa is my latest favorite. Packed with some of my all-time favorites (quinoa, pecans, and feta cheese), this flavorful dish is also an eye catcher. I have a true soft spot in my heart for food-focused holidays and Thanksgiving takes-the-cake in that department. To me, what so remarkable about Thanksgiving is the blending of foods that works no matter what. This holiday can include your grandmother’s classic recipes, while still leaving space for trying out new recipes that aid in building even more transitions.
For Thanksgiving in my house, I always take requests which will typically include some old favorites. But it almost always includes something new as well. This roasted acorn squash with quinoa, pecans and feta is fantastic because it can be served as a side dish, but it is hearty enough to make a full-blown entree as well.
Although acorn squash belongs to the same species as summer squash like zucchini and crookneck squash, it’s commonly known as a winter squash. Many people especially enjoy its slightly nutty flavor and tender texture when cooked. Acorn squash is extremely nutrient-dense for its size. It is rich in dietary fiber, like most fruits and vegetables, while also being very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. In terms of vitamins and minerals, acorn squash has significant levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, and its range of minerals is impressive, including potassium, magnesium, iron, coper, and calcium.
Quinoa is one of my favorite whole grains. It is technically the seed of a flowering plant from the amaranth family. Quinoa, if you don’t already know it, is packed with protein, fiber, dietary minerals, and vitamins, and is naturally glute-free. Although you can cook and eat quinoa seeds in a similar way to most grains, the quinoa plant itself is more similar to beetroots and spinach. You can actually eat both the seeds and leaves of this versatile and incredibly nutritious plant. Farmers cultivate over 120 different types of quinoa. However, the most common versions available in grocery stores are white, red, and black quinoa.
This lovely, seasonal, roasted acorn squash is a wonderful, more modern dish that will work with just about any Thanksgiving favorites, classic or otherwise.
Roasted Acorn Squash With Quinoa Pecans And Feta
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 2 Use a serrated knife to slice through the squash from the tip to the stem. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the squash halves cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the squash, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are against the pan. Place in the oven and bake until the squash flesh is tender about 30 -35 minutes. While the squash is cooking, make the filling.
- Step 3 In a medium saucepan add the quinoa and water, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set near your work station.
- Step 4 In a medium sauté pan, lightly toast the pecans over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Step 5 In a medium mixing bowl, and the quinoa. Chop the pecans and add to the quinoa along with the scallions, parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix to combine. Add the feta cheese and gently toss to coast.
- Step 6 Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Divide the quinoa mixture evenly between the the four squash halves with a large spoon. You can either serve the stuffed squash as is or return them to the oven to warm for an additional 10 minutes.
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