Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Squash

I had a fun conversation recently where I was asked, "If you could make any dish right now, what would it be?" Well, oddly enough the original answer wasn't this recipe but it did include many of the same ingredients. The more I thought about my response the more it evolved. It went from a salad with most of my favorite Autumn ingredients to a warm, Christmas inspired stuffed squash. As I turned this recipe over in my head I realized I was asking for perfection - a dish that had beautiful colors (Christmas no less!), contrasting textures and flavors that complimented each other. Could this be done?? My friends, it can! This squash was fantastic! It was unbelievably easy and oh so tasty. Healthy too?? This recipe is just hitting the nail on every head. (ha!)



So if you're debating what to make for Christmas, look no further. If you just need another weeknight dinner, again, look no further! This dish is easy enough for a weeknight meal but tasty and beautiful enough for a Christmas Dinner. I only wish I had the beautiful photographs to prove it. Sadly, when you mix an inexperienced photographer, time crunch and barely any light (thanks, Winter) you don't get the stunning picture that you want. However, I will try my best to persuade you to make this dish with my words. (Ha!) 

I chose the Acorn squash as it's skin is a bit easier to cut through and roasts fairly quick. The flesh is already a beautiful gold, but the color deepens as it cooks. Not to mention it the texture turns as silky as butter! I roasted it with some ghee in my cast iron pan and it formed a crust on top of the flesh and made the house smell amazing! It couldn't have been easier. For real you guys... this squash might become my favorite!

As for the "stuffing" I really just wanted to use a few specific ingredients (cause I was craving them!) and so I rounded out the colors and textures from there. There is only one thing I would tweak and I'm not sure if I would necessarily like it better... but I'll get to that.* For now, my key ingredients were pomegranate seeds, sheep's milk feta and toasted hazelnuts. 

Are you sold yet??? You should be!  But ok, I'll keep going just incase...

I wanted the tart flavor of the pom seeds, the tangy, salty bite of the feta and the warm roasty (a word?) flavor of the hazelnut. But I needed a filler and something to brighten it up. Enter quinoa and fresh parsley! To top it off I added a few squeezes of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Stuff all that in a buttery squash? The flavors worked perfectly together! With every bite you had buttery, roasty, tangy, salty, tart and fresh. In every bite?? Dang.

As if this dish could get more diverse, let's talk about the textures too. The squash is undeniably creamy while the hazelnuts provide good crunch. The quinoa is soft and a just a tiny bit chewy while the pom seeds are so complex with an initial crunch, a burst of juice and then finished up with a chewy texture. (I love pom seeds for this reason!) The sheep's milk feta is soft and crumbly. The fresh herbs are chopped more roughly so that you when you chew them, you're breaking up the leaves and thus releasing plenty of fresh flavor right there on the spot! If you ever eat roughly chopped herbs, you might know there's a specific texture they have -- similar to greens but more delicate. And to finish up, the lemon and oil bring some moisture and bind it all together. 

Well folks, there you have it. My attempt to persuade you to make this dish. This squash had it all to me -- I just loved it. It couldn't have been easier to make, more delicious to eat and prettier to display. Whether you make this for a special dinner or just a weeknight where you only have 30 minutes, you should try this! I know I will be making it again and again.

I may not be a writer or photographer but I do love food. I love creating it, sharing it, discussing it... basically all things food. It's one of those parts of creation that never ceases to amaze me. You can see an inkling of God's creativity with every aspect of food --  all the way from farm to table. I hope you have as much fun as I did with this recipe!



Christmas Squash
Serves 2, with extra stuffing

1 Acorn Squash
1/2 heaping cup Quinoa*
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup Sheep's Milk Feta**
1/4- 1/2 cup Hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped
1 large lemon
Olive Oil 
Knob of Ghee, Coconut Oil or Butter



1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. Throw your knob of ghee (or other fat) in a cast iron pan & place in the oven to melt as it heats up. 
3. Cut the Acorn Squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place squash cut side down in pan and put back in the oven to roast for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender (you want it to be very fork tender so that it's super creamy!)
4. Cook quinoa per the instructions on the box or bag. This should take about 10-20 minutes.
5. Place hazelnuts on a pan and roast in the oven with squash for 6-8 minutes or until well toasted.
6. Cut your pomegranate in half and begin to release the seeds. Wear an apron! :)
7. Roughly chop parsley.
8. Roughly chop feta.

 To Assemble:

1. Mix quinoa, nuts, feta, parsley and pom seeds in a bowl. Squeeze lemon & drizzle olive oil to taste. 
2. When the Squash is ready flip it over onto your place, face side up. Sprinkle with coarse salt and stuff the cavity with lots of goodness! I like to add a little more stuff on the side of the plate as I wanted more than the cavity could hold. 
3. Feel free to sprinkle a bit more herbs or nuts on the top when finished.

Merry Christmas! 
I wish you more than seasons blessings this year. I wish you the Joy of our Savior! That you rejoice in Him and share His love and blessings with others!

Anne 


*If you made it this far then you'll remember I said there was one thing I would tweak. In my pictures I used tri-colored quinoa. Originally I wanted to use all black quinoa for color's sake. I'm not sure if it would be too dark and you'd loose the pom seeds and parsley or if it would make the colors pop even more. Next time I'll try it, but if you beat me there let me know what you think!

**I specify Sheep's Milk Feta for a reason. Sheep's milk is tangier and tastes light years different than cow's milk feta. It really makes a huge difference to use that instead of your Athena Brand pre-crumbled feta, so if you can use the sheep! :)

As always, this recipe is totally adjustable. I prefer equal parts of goodies to quinoa ratio but if you prefer any one item more, adjust the amounts the way you want! That's the fun of cooking -- tweaking to fit your preferences.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! I will be trying this as soon as possible. I am simply blown away by the creativity of this dish—I would never think to add pomegranate seeds, but I can hardly wait to try it!

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