Pure Fall (or any season) yumminess! I find butternut squash adds a lovely sweetness, while the sausage adds fat and salt and flavor. The quinoa gives the dish body, and the spinach, well, how can you go wrong with spinach? I toss in a little ricotta for extra flavor. It’s all good.
This works equally well with acorn squash. If you are going with butternut squash, make sure it is relatively symmetric. A very large head and small tail will cook at different levels, leaving the the tail done long before the big part of the squash is done. This leads to an especially tender tail — meaning you have to be extra careful when scooping out the flesh.
Another weeknight quickie, especially if you’re using leftover quinoa (or rice). It’s a great vegetarian option that is highly flexible when it comes to ingredients. For example, instead of spinach, I’ve used dandelion greens or kale. In fact, you can mix up the ingredients all sorts of ways…to the point where instead of a bell pepper, maybe you’re stuffing an acorn or butternut squash (note: this may increase cooking time!).
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is suddenly everywhere. This ancient South American grain is tasty and versatile. It cooks up just like rice*. I find that quinoa absorbs flavor really well, and I really love as a stuffing for squash and peppers.
Quinoa also makes a great vegetarian patty or cake, perfect as a base for Huevos Rancheros or an interesting side dish (maybe topped with a creamy mustard sauce?). Quinoa and black bean cakes are a great way to use leftover quinoa, with the added bonus of tasty black beans. Adjust the seasonings in this recipe to suit your palate and goals — there is no wrong way to make these!
* Seriously, just like rice — if you’re cooking on your stovetop, it’s 2 cups water or broth to 1 cup quinoa plus seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, or whatever you like), bring to boil, let simmer for 15 − 20 minutes; if you’re using your rice cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for basic white rice.