If you're not familiar with quinoa, allow me to give you a little information on this very nutritional whole grain. I'll start out with its pronunciation, keen-wah. By being able to pronounce it correctly, you'll be saved the embarrassment of walking up to a grocery store clerk and asking where they keep the quin-noah. Yeah, it really happened.
Quinoa is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. It is still relatively unknown here in America but is gaining popularity because of its nutritional value. Considered a super food, quinoa has more protein than any other grain and is the only grain to contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. (That's great news for you vegetarians out there!) Quinoa is also high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, making it a wonderful food for helping keep blood sugar levels stable.
Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed in cold water to remove the soapy saponin coating and then it's cooked similarly to rice. I chose to cook the quinoa for this recipe in chicken broth for further depth of flavor.
This recipe is written for one acorn squash. Double if using two squash.
Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa And Sausage
For the squash:
Cut squash in half and remove seeds and any stringy pulp. Brush squash halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and add 1/4" of water to pan. Roast squash in 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until fork tender.
For the stuffing:
1/2 cup quinoa cooked per package directions in chicken broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I tossed them in with the quinoa while it was cooking to soften them up a bit.)
1/2 lb. ground turkey sausage
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seed kernels
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 TBSP parmesan cheese,grated
Brown turkey sausage in large skillet. Drain sausage and set aside.
Return skillet to stove and add olive oil. Add onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Saute until onion is softened and translucent then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for a few minutes to ensure that flour loses its raw taste. Whisk in chicken broth and cook/stir until smooth and bubbly. Stir in sage, thyme and parsley and remove pan from heat. Add the sunflower kernels, the quinoa/cranberries, and the turkey sausage to the skillet, stirring to combine well.
Stir Panko and parmesan together in a small bowl.
Stuff each half of the acorn squash with the sausage/quinoa mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the Panko crumbs. Place squash back into oven for 10-15 minutes to heat through and brown the breadcrumbs.