This warm, enticing blend of spices and mint will take you away, and this recipe may just become your new household favorite.
2 acorn squash (1 1⁄4 to 1 1⁄2 lb/ 565 to 675 g each)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) salted butter
1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
Pinch of ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups (325 mL) water
2/3 cup (150 mL) red quinoa
3 Tbsp (45 mL) toasted salted cashew pieces
2 Tbsp (30 mL) diced dried apricots
4 tsp (20 mL) chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 400°f (200°c). Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings. Place squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish and fill with 1⁄4 inch (5 mm) of water. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat, whisking constantly. Watch closely as brown flecks begin to appear. As soon as the butter turns a caramel brown color and has a nutty fragrance (this should take between 4 to 6 minutes; do not allow the butter to turn black), remove from the heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil, cinnamon and cardamom.
Add the water and quinoa to the same saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Toss 2 cups (500 mL) of the quinoa with the seasoned brown butter, cashews, apricots and mint. Cover the quinoa mixture to keep it warm if the squash needs more time to finish baking.
Equally divide the quinoa filling among the four squash halves. Serve immediately.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.
PER SERVING: Energy 340 calories; Protein 7 g; Carbohydrates 50 g; Dietary Fiber 6 g; Fat 14 g; Sugar 3 g; Cholesterol 15 mg; Sodium 100 mg
No mint? For this recipe, replace it with 2 Tbsp (30 mL) thinly sliced green onions. The onion gives a different flavor to the dish and is a great option.