Dinnertime really is 8:58 at our house. ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

26 September 2007

Dinnertime really is 8:58 at our house.

The night before last I had a major food disaster. you wouldn't think I could screw up something as easy as refried beans, but I did, largely because I had soaked the beans three days before and didn't notice that they hadn't stood up to the interim. I did the entire cooking process and served things out before we noticed that hey, they smelled funny and had a weird aftertaste and goddamnit!

So I ended up eating rice with yogurt and salsa for dinner. Rice with yogurt and salsa is actually pretty good, but it isn't enough food to keep you from dying of no energy the next day.

End effect: by last night I was starving to death. Dinner had to be serious. It also had to involve using up the stuff we already had, since we're going on vacation next week. I devised a plan.

Serious stuffed delicata squash with serious quinoa.

delicata squash
butter/olive oil
quinoa/other grain
green beans
salt, pepper
optional gouda/other cheese

First, tackle the squash. It's easy but takes a while. Get a big knife and whack a squash (or two; this amount of quinoa will fill two) in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and either discard them or roast them like pumpkin seeds. You can do that with all squashy seeds, can't you? They're in the same family so I think the answer is yes. Anyway, get your squash into a baking pan filled with half an inch of water. Put a little butter or olive oil in each squash half and bake until tender and browning a little, about 45 minutes at 350F. I left mine in about an hour because I was just not paying attention, and it turned out fine.

When the squash is maybe halfway through baking time, it's time for the filling.

For quinoa: measure out a cup and rinse it well in your finest strainer. I put the actual pot underneath so I have some hope of catching any stray bits. Rinse for three or four minutes, mixing to get every bit, then drain and put in a pot. Add two cups of water put the lid on the pan, and bring the pot to a boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, it's time for vegetables. Chop up a big handful of walnuts to whatever texture you like. I like really fine bits so they act more like a flour. Varied texture is fine. Then put a pan over low-medium heat, add the nuts, and toast for about five minutes. Stir and watch to make sure they don't burn. Then take them out and set them aside.

Chop up a shallot and sauté it in olive oil until it softens; chop a bunch of green beans into little half-inch chunks and add them in. Stir it up and cook together for five minutes or until the green beans are a good texture for you. In the meantime, if you want cheese you can be cubing or shredding it up. I had an end of double cream gouda and oh my god I wish we'd had more because it was the best possible choice in these circumstances.

When everything is done, it's time to combine.

Add the quinoa, walnuts, and cubed cheese to the beans and shallot. Mix it all up, seasoning with salt and pepper. Fill each squash half with big scoops of quinoa mix. If you feel the need, you can scatter some extra cheese over the top and set the pan of squash under the broiler. I did not feel the need and was besides out of cheese; this worked fine.

Eat it. Pack the leftover squash and quinoa for lunch. Eat it some more tomorrow.

Delicata squash is quite a lot sweeter than the quinoa mix, which was fine with me. I can think of some good ways to make the quinoa sweeter, though. I would probably leave out the green beans and add some dried cranberries or cherries instead for really sweet fall comfort food. Or you could scoop out the cooked squash flesh and mix that with the quinoa, so it was just a big plate of grain as opposed to a stuffed vegetable.

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