Friday, October 27, 2006

Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries

The Recipe: Acorn squash stuffed with protein-rich nutty-tasting quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah], slightly sweet with dried cherries or cranberries, maple syrup and fall spices. A great choice for Meatless Monday during the fall. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

The Conversation: What, exactly, is "tepid water"? And what in heavens does it have in common with quinoa?!

Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries ♥ KitchenParade.com, perfect for Meatless Monday in fall. Vegan. Rave reviews!


COMPLIMENTS!
"... to die for ... my family's first experience with quinoa, and they raved ..." ~ Anonymous


True Story.

Late on a Friday, shoppers trolled the aisles in a nearby grocery whose shelves are lined with hard-to-find international ingredients as coveted by gourmet cooks as appreciated by immigrants longing for familiar tastes of home.

One shopper studied his list, peered at labels, checked the list again. An observant grocery manager asked to help, thought for a moment but shook his head. “Naw, we don’t carry that.”

Then his face brightened. “Whole Foods!” he said, naming the upscale organic market some miles away. “They’ll have it for sure.”

Curious, I approached. What hard-to-find item was the shopper hunting? He consulted the list again, then carefully enunciated, “Tepid water.”

Is quinoa as unfamiliar to you as tepid water was to the puzzled shopper? Change that with this week’s squash. It’s stuffed with the nutty-flavored, high-protein, quick-cooking grain that’s pronounced, carefully now, KEEN-wah.

As for that tepid water, what is tepid water, you ask? Here's the thing. Tepid water is plain warm water, straight from the tap. Really, that's it! Bread recipes often specify water temperature, to promote yeast growth.

ALANNA's TIPS Keep your eyes peeled for small acorn squash the size of oranges not grapefruit. Larger squash will need more quinoa stuffing, it's way too easy to load up on calories with a calorie-dense food like quinoa. Do cover the quinoa while it cooks, otherwise it won't puff up. And do consider cooking some extra quinoa, it's great to have on hand to add a little protein to salads during the week. If your family doesn't like the sweetness of cinnamon in savory dishes, it can be omitted. I'm tempted to use a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon cumin. A whole teaspoon of spice for so little quinoa seems "off" but bland quinoa is quite bland.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite Meatless Monday recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

ACORN SQUASH with QUINOA & CHERRIES

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 1 hour
Serves 4
    ACORN SQUASH
  • 2 small acorn squash, washed
  • Olive oil
    QUINOA
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, preferably white, rinsed well
    QUINOA STUFFING
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries, preferably halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, preferably toasted or Maple-Glazed Pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

GIVE THE ACORN SQUASH A HEAD START Heat oven to 400F/200C. Cut squash in half lengthwise, that's "pole to pole" or "stem to stern" and definitely not cross-wise. (Why? To avoid the wobbly stem and tip, also to make two almost-equal halves!) Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and "gunk," toss these in the compost bowl or wash the seeds to make Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds. With your hands, rub the skins and the cut edges with oil. Place squash face-down on a baking dish, preferably one with sides as high as the squash halves, and bake for 30 minutes.

COOK QUINOA Meanwhile, bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, cover and return to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook until the quinoa puffs up and becomes tender, about 15 – 20 minutes, the liquid should cook away at about the same time, if not, add more hot water as needed.

MIX & MOUND THE STUFFING Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the fruit, nuts, maple syrup, butter and cinnamon. Mound the quinoa mixture in the four squash halves.

FINISH BAKING Cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS If you like, bake the squash early in the day, then reheat in a 350F/180C oven for about 30 minutes. So convenient!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half: 283 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 7mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium; 47g Carb; 6g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 6 & WW Points Plus 8.

Insider Tips


Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries ♥ KitchenParade.com, perfect for Meatless Monday in fall. Vegan. Rave reviews!

Three details here, things I noticed or learned "too late", oops.

CUTTING THE SQUASH Do cut the acorn squash lengthwise, through (or just beside) the stem. That avoids the awkward tippy squash you see in this old photo. It also makes for two nearly-equal servings.

WHITE QUINOA The white quinoa makes a much prettier stuffing, it really shows off the cherries and nuts! Taste-wise, there's no difference though so if you have another quinoa on hand, sure, use it. I know many cooks like Trader Joe's tri-color quinoa, a mix of red, black and what Trader Joe's calls "golden" quinoa.

TIMING Ha! Who knew? Acorn squash really do taste better in the fall versus later in the year. Even more importantly? Most supermarket acorn squash can benefit from being stored in your pantry (cool, dry, dark) for a few weeks. Curious? Read more, this NPR story is just fascinating!


More Quinoa Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf Brown Rice & Quinoa Rice Pudding
~ more quinoa recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew

The Recipe: A hearty summer sausage stew, a great way to use up the summer sausage that so often shows up in gift baskets. The stew is packed with late-summer and early-fall vegetables so even though the sausage itself is calorie-dense, a serving adds up to about 200 calories. So good, this! I especially love it with a dollop of sour cream on top with some good bread for dunking into the juices.

The Conversation: A love letter to fall. (And if I may say so myself ... a lovely piece of writing.)

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew, another one-pot Quick Supper ♥ KitchenParade.com, a small portion of flavor-packed summer sausage with zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes or turnips, a hearty, satisfying dinner. Low Carb. PP5.

Fall’s light is one of amber glow, somewhere between the eye-wincing harshness of summer and the wind-braced gray of winter.

Fall’s food, in turn, lies somewhere between the garden-bright salads of summer and the braised-brown meats of winter.

With modern supermarkets bearing strawberries in January and June and cranberries in relationships with May and December, we too easily forget that food comes in seasons, that seasons come with food.

But fall? Fall knows.

Fall knows it’s the open stretch between the dog days of summer and the sundogs of winter skies. Fall remembers summer sweat even as it girds for winter chill. Lustily, fall celebrates with the last of the tomatoes and the first of the apples, the last of the grill and the first of the gratins.

Fall, fall knows its place, its glorious amber-lit place. And so does fall’s food, on plates, and in our hearts.

ALANNA's TIPS This is a great recipe to use up the summer sausage (or other well-spiced sausages) that so often show up in gift baskets. The recipe calls for eight ounces but I've made it with six ounces, the extra's not missed in the least. If the sausage itself is quite spicy, you'll want to dial back the red pepper flakes. There's quite a bit of potato and zucchini to balance the spices, but still. Like many stews, Balkan Summer Sausage Stew’s flavors meld when the stew is cooked one day and served the next, it makes for great leftovers. But it is also good the first day when the potatoes and zucchini are still distinct and firm and fresh, that's the way I prefer serving it, fresh off the stove. For many years, I made this stew in a Dutch oven, all jumbled up in a typical messy stew. But for a dramatic appearance? A shallow skillet really shows off the architecture of the zucchini half moons. Bulk up the volume with little calorie consequence by adding extra onion, pepper and tomato – try okra, sweet corn and tomatillos too! Low carb eaters, substitute turnips for the potatoes, very good!

BALKAN SUMMER SAUSAGE STEW

Rustic rib-sticking fall fare
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 7 cups
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (or 1 tablespoon bacon grease)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or thyme or sage)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes or 1 pound good tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 8 ounces summer sausage, skin removed, diced small
  • 2 medium potatoes, skins on, diced or 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut in half moons
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Good bread, for dunking

In a broad, shallow braising pan or skillet, start bacon on medium high. Add onions and peppers as prepped, then spices and bay leaf; cook until onions begin to brown.

Stir in tomatoes and water, bring to a boil.

Add summer sausage and potatoes, return to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until potatoes are nearly done.

Arrange the zucchini pieces on top, cover and let simmer until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve in bowls with dollops of sour cream and good bread for dipping.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup:
Made with potatoes 219 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 25mg Cholesterol; 1186mg Sodium; 21g Carb; 3g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 9g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 5 & WW Points Plus 5
Made with turnips 181 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 25mg Cholesterol; 1206mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 3g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 8g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4 & WW Points Plus 4

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew, another one-pot Quick Supper ♥ KitchenParade.com, a small portion of flavor-packed summer sausage with zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes or turnips, a hearty, satisfying dinner. Low Carb. PP5.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

More Zucchini Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mediterranean Eggplant Rainbow Chicken Jerusalem Turkey Burgers with Zucchini
~ more zucchini recipes ~

More Eastern European Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Potato Blintzes Lavosh - Armenian Cracker Bread Choereg, Aremenian Easter Bread

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)