Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, full of family, friends and warm cheers. However, being centered on a meal, the celebration can cause undue stress for those on special diets, especially a new vegan or vegetarian. If you have not yet experienced an alternative Thanksgiving meal, then we suggest looking forward to the opportunity! Certainly there are options to stuffed turkey or a big ham on that Thursday. Remember, you’re not alone in sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet on Thanksgiving. It’s been done before, and often done quite well! Here’s one of our favorites for the main course on a vegan Thanksgiving table: Thanksgiving-Style Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash.
The acorn squash is among the more popular entries from the squash family (cucurbita, if you wondered) especially among those interested in healthy eating thanks to its edible skin. This is not a flesh-only gourd, such as pumpkin. Note the recipe below: in the end, you cook “until the squash is fork tender.” An added benefit to the acorn squash for your Thanksgiving meal setting is its appearance: “There’s no squash as cute as an acorn squash,” says bonappetit.com. The acorn squash is sweet-tasting and offers a warm, seasonal appearance to a dinner setting.
Then there is the stuffing. We posted last summer about our love for quinoa. The amazing Peruvian seed is gluten-free, higher in protein than any other grain, and has all the amino acids you need to maintain a very healthy diet. All that, and it tastes good! Cooked well it provides many of the vitamins and nutrients needed in a healthy diet. Check out one of the many ways to prepare quinoa in one of our very favorite holiday treats:
Thanksgiving-Style Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Two organic acorn squash, washed, cut in half with seeds removed
- 1 cup tri-colored quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth (make sure there is no added cane sugar)
- ¼ cup red onion, small dice
- ¼ cup carrots, small dice
- ¼ cup celery, small dice
- ½ tsp. Dried thyme, rosemary, sage
- 2 scallions, minced
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 Tablespoons dried raisins or cranberries
- 6 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil, divided
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees and place the squash cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until just tender.
In the meantime, wash quinoa in a fine meshed sifter under cold water to remove the bitter coating. Place in a medium saucepan with 1-cup vegetable broth and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, and once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let the pot sit covered for about 5 minutes to allow any quinoa to unstick from the pan. Place cooked quinoa into a glass bowl.
In a skillet, add 2 Tablespoons of olive or avocado oil and sauté the onions, carrots, celery and dried herbs with a pinch of sea salt and pepper for about 5 minutes and the dried raisins or cranberries and pine nuts and sauté for about 1 minute more. Pour into the bowl with the quinoa and mix with a fork to combine. Add the chopped scallions and taste for seasoning.
Fill each acorn half with stuffing, place back in the baking dish and again drizzle with a little olive or avocado oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Place back into the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and the quinoa stuffing is slightly browned.
Enjoy! Here’s to a happy and very healthy holiday season!