I’ll admit I was a big worried when we went up to my cousin’s wedding in Wawa, ON. Of course, my cousin assured me that Jarrod and I would get a vegan meal, but when our plane landed in Sault Ste. Marie and we prepared for a two-hour drive up a beautiful but very remote highway without even half a dozen truck stops, I realized that the weekend was not going to be easy.
When we got to Wawa, the first thing we did was go to the grocery store (yep, the one). Jarrod and I found some cereal and soy milk for the mornings and some healthy snacks (and some not-so-healthy because duh, it’s a party weekend). I gnawed on potato chips and Bark Thins while my cousins ate pulled pork at the Friday night party and ate Tim Horton’s oatmeal for lunch. Then, finally, when we sat for the reception, we were greeted with the most beautiful creation.
We were each given half an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa (thank God someone thought of protein) and some other veggies in there. It was the most perfectly-done squash, one that you could just slice with a fork. Nothing too complex spice-wise, but it just goes to show how lovely food can be when you just use the right cooking temp, the right amount of time and the right amount of care.
It’s no wonder Jarrod recreated this dish for me on a cool night this past week — the first cool night in a while! It was total comfort food, very filling without feeling too rich, and consisted of those vibrant fall colours that just make you want to hug and kiss your food (okay, that’s weird).
We added mushrooms for extra texture and some green onions for a pretty, pretty garnish.
The Big Stuffed Squash
- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free
- Makes two large servings with extra stuffing
- Kitchen tools required: Knives and cutting board, rice cooker or large pot, skillet
- One medium acorn squash
- 250 ml (1 cup) uncooked quinoa
- One whole yellow onion
- 3/4 cup mushrooms (we used crimini, but any kind would do)
- Green onions, for garnish (optional)
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil, plus more for frying
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 380 degrees.
- Slice the squash in half vertically and scoop out the guts and seeds, hollowing it out just a little bit more than its natural groove. Rub the flesh with olive oil and crank on salt and pepper.
- Cook open side down for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, flip and cook for 20 to 30 minutes face-up (cooking face-down first helps give a caramelized finish).
- Prepare the quinoa according to instructors in a pot or rice cooker.
- Warm some oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Dice the onions in medium-sized chunks. Add to the skillet and sautée until translucent and fragrant (about five minutes).
- Chop the mushrooms into small chunks and add to the onions. Continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Once the quinoa is ready, mix into a bowl with onions and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the quinoa-onion-mushroom mixture to the squash, dress with green onions and serve hot!