I was recently gifted some beautiful saffron from Turkey so I’ve been playing with more creative ways to use it than the classic risotto Milanese. Since it is seasonal I was very pleased to discover how nicely saffron pairs with squash.
In this squash and saffron recipe, acorn squash is stuffed with quinoa, chicken sausage and mushrooms for a nice light meal. Choose your sausage carefully or it won’t work well with the simple flavours. A mild sausage or complementary spiced sausage (like apple and sage) goes nicely.
I love stuffed vegetable recipes but the prep can be a bit of a pain for a weeknight, but not if you think ahead! If you organize yourself to eat quinoa earlier in the week so you can have leftovers and pre-roast the squash while you’re making the previous night’s dinner this recipe comes together very quickly.
Quinoa and Chicken Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash(serves 2)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut the squash in half, lightly rub the rims with a touch of olive oil to prevent it from drying out. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until tender. Remove the squash from the oven and scoop out the seeds and discard.
3. Meanwhile place a medium pot of water on to boil and cook your quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
4. Combine the saffron in a small bowl with 1/2 cup of hot water and allow to steep.
5. Heat a medium skillet to medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Remove the sausage meat from the casing and fry until brown on all sides. Push to the edges of the pan and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly until both are slightly browned. Add the white wine and allow to reduce by half. Stir in the parsley and the quinoa. Strain the saffron water into the quinoa and fold to toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Sprinkle the squash halves with salt and pepper. Divide the quinoa between the two halves and transfer back to the oven. Bake for 25 more minutes, or until piping hot and the squash is very tender.
(Tip: This can be prepared ahead of time through step 5, just make sure to cook the stuffed squash long enough to heat through if the filling and squash are cold.)