Monday, October 15, 2012

Moroccan Stuffed Squash

Today's recipe is Moroccan Stuffed Squash!
This recipe comes to us from a mailing list, PureWow recipes. Find it here. It's adapted from a recipe in "The Sprouted Kitchen" by Sara Forte (Ten Speed Press).
This is a savory recipe, something for dinner or a side-dish instead of a dessert dish. It's a vegetarian but not vegan recipe--there's cheese in here.
Let's get started!

Once again, there are a number of things that go into this dish, so I've split up the ingredient lists. Ruth has brought in the acorn squash, though one of them is hidden under the parsley and behind the package of mint. The round reddish fruit next to Hi-chan is pomegranate. Black brought the lemon and then got distracted--he's positive he has forgotten something. Red brought in the quinoa. The orange juice sort of got shoved in the back and forgotten about--maybe that's what Black is looking for.

Here's the rest of what we need, once again in front of the forgotten orange juice. Black has decided that the coconut oil gives him a good vantage point to observe the others bringing in the spices and such. Ruth brought in the feta cheese and set it next to the salt and coconut milk. Hi-chan and Red have the rest of the spices arranged--paprika, cumin, coriander, and black pepper.

And of course we can't cook without measuring cups and spoons! Hi-chan has those under control. Ruth brought the medium-size saucepan and its lid, along with his favorite stirring spoon. Black has the aluminium foil, and Red has lined up fork, knife, and spoon on the edge of the baking sheet. Wait, we're not ready to eat yet! We do need these for getting the squash prepared, though. Of course, none of us remembered to grab the knives and cutting board...

Step one is to preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Black likes to work the oven controls.

Let's line the baking sheet with aluminium foil to make clean-up faster and easier. Everyone is helping out!

Now that the oven is warming up and the pan is ready for us, let's start cooking! First, we need to cut each squash in half lengthwise. Ruth is holding the squash still for me while I cut it. The skin of the squash is pretty tough, so I do need both hands on the knife like this, and I press my whole weight into it--none of the dragons weigh enough in our world to accomplish that part of the trick.

With the squash cut, we need to get the seeds out. Ruth scoops them out with the large spoon while I hold the half-squash over the compost bin for him, allowing him to dump the seeds with a minimum of mess.

Once all four squash-halves are cleaned out, take about 1 tbsp (roughly 15 mL) of coconut oil and rub it over the exposed surfaces of each piece. Ruth is handling this with the knife, as our coconut oil is solid like butter.

Place the squash cut-side-up on the baking sheet and sprinkle on a pinch or so of salt and pepper, to taste. We want to bring out the flavor of the squash, not overwhelm it. Doing this over the pan means less clean-up later, as whatever doesn't make it onto the squash will be caught by the pan.

Now that the squash is seasoned, turn each piece over so that the cut sides are down, as Hi-chan has just finished doing. Ruth has jumped right in to the next step, poking a few holes in the skin of the acorn squash with a fork, to let steam escape as the squash cooks.

I put the squash in the oven as Black set the timer for 20 minutes so we don't accidentally overcook it.

With the squash in the oven, it's time to get to work on the stuffing! Red sets the burner to medium-high heat. Hi-chan already put the medium saucepan onto the burner.

We need the whole 13.5oz (400mL) can of coconut milk. Ruth was having a little trouble holding the can, so I gave him a hand to pour it into the pot. Once it's all in there, we add a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste) and wait for it to come to a gentle (not rolling!) boil.

As soon as the milk starts to boil, Ruth adds 1c (170g) of quinoa. Make sure you're using plain quinoa, as we'll be adding our own set of spices to it later. Check the 'bulk foods' section of your grocery store, or perhaps your local health-food shop, if you're having trouble finding plain quinoa.

As soon as the quinoa is in, Ruth puts the cover on the pan, to trap in all the moisture. Quinoa cooks much like rice, so we now turn the heat down to low and leave it there, covered, for about 15 minutes while we get other things ready. The parsley and mint need to be chopped, and we have to get the seeds out of the pomegranate.

Hey, the timer went off on the squash! Now we pull them out and Ruth handles flipping them over to expose the cut side. They're starting to look good already, and they aren't even done yet! Once they're all flipped, they go back in the oven for about another 10 minutes, so that the whole squash is cooked all the way through.

Now the timer on the quinoa has gone off, so Ruth takes it off the heat. Leave it covered and let the quinoa steam for another 5 minutes without the heat before you start adding the rest of things to it. The burner you just took it off is hot, though, so be careful not to step on it! Burns aren't fun.

Now that the quinoa is done steaming, Black is adding 2 tbsp coconut oil. We'll be mixing up the stuffing right in the pan, no need for extra bowls.

Red adds 1/4 tsp cumin to the oiled quinoa. Mm, spices!

Hi-chan has 1tsp paprika, which will give it a bit more color as well as nice flavor. Not too much color, though.

1/4 tsp corriander is the last dry spice, and Hi-chan has that under control too, while Ruth gets ready to stir and I've pulled the smallest two for another project.

Ruth is mixing the spices into the quinoa evenly before we add the colorful ingredients. At this point the quinoa should have an even color throughout. Don't mix too long, though, we don't want our quinoa all squashed up!

Red is the perfect size to help pull the seeds out of the pomegranate. He's having fun where I found mostly frustration. Pomegranate seeds are about the same size as a corn kernel or a pea, and they squish pretty easily.

"Cheese!" Hi-chan grins at the camera as she adds the 1/2c (80g) feta cheese. She finds the pun amusing, especially since she usually tells the camera "ni!"

We've managed to extract 1/2c of seeds from that pomegranate! About half the seeds in the medium-size fruit I bought went into the cup Ruth is pouring into the stuffing mix. (I was going to measure it on the scale, but I lost my tare because it took too long to get the seeds out of the fruit!)

Black helps me add 3tbsp of chopped parsley. We put it in the little bowl to free up the chopping board. The actual recipe calls for cilantro instead of parsley, but I've made the substitution because I don't care for the taste of cilantro. The two herbs are similar enough that it won't really change anything.

Red is knocking the last of the 2 tbsp lemon zest out of the other little bowl.

Since the mint was the last to get chopped up, Ruth scrapes 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves off the cutting board into the mix.

We used the smallest bowl again to measure 2 tbsp orange juice so it wouldn't get spilled. Hi-chan is tipping it in while I help her control the bowl.

With everything in the pot, Ruth stirs it up carefully, until it is just combined--we don't want this all the same straight through anymore! This is stirred well enough. It looks tasty!

The squash are out of the oven, and Ruth has grabbed the knife to test them and make sure they're cooked all the way through. Poke it gently with a knife in the thickest part, if the knife slides in easily to the skin, your squash is all done!

Everyone gathers around to watch as Ruth scoops stuffing into the squash halves. Don't be stingy, now, fill them all the way up!

Here we have 4 stuffed squash halves! You can garnish them with a bit of extra feta cheese and some rough-chopped toasted pistachios, but we've left that off because our squash are already very overflowing. There's still stuffing left in the pan, too! Why? The recipe asks for medium-size squash, but I forgot that when we were at the grocery and bought small squash. Oops.

Plate it up and dig in! Ruth is trying to figure out how to grab a bite without hitting anybody by accident. Black found the stuffing that fell off when the squash was put on the plate and has claimed that for himself. This is good stuff! Archi was a bit surprised at the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds, though, as it's the first time he's ever had them and he wasn't really expecting it.

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