Quinoa stuffing has been a staple at my Thanksgivings for quite some time and I make it differently each year. This one is my new favorite. It has every great flavor of Thanksgiving tossed together in one dish: the classic stuffing components of celery and onion, the fresh sage and earthy cumin, plenty of cranberries, chopped parsley, and pine nuts.
Now, stuffing implies that it will be stuffed into something, right? And it’s hard to think of stuffing without thinking of that classic Thanksgiving centerpiece. You know, the one that has been braised all morning until it has a perfectly juicy interior and a crispy browned skin…
I’m talking about butternut squash, of course! It’s the perfect flavor pairing for this quinoa. We’ll braise the squash in the oven until it’s juicy and tender, then stuff with the quinoa, and return to the oven until everything is perfectly browned. Thanksgiving or not, it’s a seriously tasty combo.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 small butternut squash
- 4 cups cooked white quinoa
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 2-3 teaspoons dried cumin
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 4 stalks celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2+ cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then, fill a large baking dish with an inch of water and place the squash face down in the water. Pop these in the oven for about 25-35 minutes, or until the skins start to brown. This is technically braising and the combo of dry heat + water will tenderize the squash while retaining all its moisture. It’s the only way to cook butternut squash in my book.
Meanwhile, cook some white quinoa until fluffy. To get the 4 cups, start with about 1.5 cups of dry quinoa and 3 cups of water. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed, then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
Chop a yellow onion. Mince some garlic. Chop some celery. Add all of these into a pan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Allow them to soften for 5-8 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
Back to the quinoa, transfer to a large bowl and throw in the lemon juice, parsley, sage, cumin, onion celery garlic mixture, cranberries, toasted pine nuts, and some salt & pepper to taste. Then toss until well mixed. Voila: quinoa stuffing! Give it a taste and feel free to adjust any ingredients or spices as needed.
The squash should be coming along nicely at this point. Remove from the oven and carefully take the squash out of the water, taking care not to splash any of the boiling water. Then, turn them right side up and fill the center with a mound of the stuffing. Transfer them to a baking sheet and return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa just starts to brown on top.
Allow to cool slightly, then plate by adding the squash halves on a bed of the quinoa stuffing: