The sky is falling

As Chicken-licken was going one day to the wood, whack! an acorn fell from a tree on to his head. “Gracious goodness me!” said Chicken-licken, “the sky must have fallen; I must go and tell the King.”

It almost feels like the sky is falling today with the persistent rain. But let’s hope no acorn squashes are falling out of the sky. Although it is the shape of an acorn and a lot smaller than some of the other squashes in the NY Magazine guide, I think you might have more than just delusions that the sky was falling down (like Chicken Licken) if one of these landed on your head.

Just like it’s relatives, the acorn squash has bright orange flesh and is pretty tough to chop. I wanted to make something very different to the butternut squash soup I made a couple of weeks ago. The other criteria for my recipe were using ingredients I had already and minimal chopping of the raw squash. A quick search for feta, quinoa and squash delivered this fantastic sounding recipe: Butternut squash with quinoa, feta, basil and mint. Of course it got a little editing, as I like to make things simpler, and I used acorn squash instead of butternut but this recipe is definitely recommended.

Ingredients to serve 2:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and deseeded
  • 1 bulb of garlic, unpeeled with the top sliced off
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 red pepper sliced into strips
  • 3 red chillis deseeded and finely diced (I ended up using some of the seeds as my chillis weren’t very hot but use more or less depending on your preference)
  • 200g feta cheese roughly chopped
  • fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C)
  • Place the squash cut side up on a shallow baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Put the garlic on the baking tray next to the squash
  • Bake squash and garlic in the oven for 30 minutes
  • While squash is in the oven cook the quinoa
  • Take the squash out of the oven and remove garlic from the tray
  • Sprinkle the sliced red peppers next to the squash and put the tray back in the oven for roughly 30 minutes (or until the squash is soft)
  • Then add chopped chilli, feta, red pepper and some chopped mint to the quinoa
  • Squeeze the garlic flesh from the skins into the quinoa and mix together, adding a little salt and pepper to taste
  • Place the squash on plates and pile some of the quinoa mix onto the squashes
  • Tear up some mint leaves to scatter over the top

This dish really tasted as good as it looks. I would add some pinenuts too, as suggested in the original recipe. Although it tasted very similar to butternut, I think the acorn squash is actually better for stuffing because of it’s shape. Here’s another recipe using risotto that I hope to test before squash season finishes, coincidentally from a chef in Chicago: Oven-roasted acorn squash stuffed with artichokes, green peas, chile de arbol, mushrooms and saffron rice

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