As a marathon runner, food is obviously a huge part of my life. It nourishes me, energizes me, restores me, and generally brings me a lot of joy. Just check out my cookbook collection or sit next to me while I pick where Will and I are going for dinner. (An obscene number of Yelp reviews later… )
But there are other reasons that I’ve always been drawn to food. Whether it’s a family dinner, Friendsgiving potluck, or post-workout brunch, nothing brings people together like a shared meal. And because of that, few things carry the same sentimentality.
One recipe that is especially loaded for me right now is Stuffed Acorn Squash, inspired by Dallas restaurant Parigi. I recently riffed on it in my own kitchen, as I usually do this time of year, and it stirred up all sorts of good memories with my Aunt Debbie, who introduced my sister and I to this meal. I love all of the ingredients separately—quinoa, roasted vegetables, steamed squash, Asiago cheese, balsamic vinegar—but together, they make a tasty little fall symphony! And it’s a fact that any food is better when its vessel is also edible. We’re celebrating Debbie’s full but too-short life this weekend, and I’ll be celebrating her in a small way every time I recreate this meal.
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 cups diced mixed vegetables (my favorites here are onions, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, and peas)
- 2 cups chopped spinach or kale
- 1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese (+ a little more for topping)
- 4 acorn squash
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup microgreens (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Cut tops off of squash and scoop out seeds (as if you were carving a pumpkin). Add about an inch of water to a deep roasting pan and place squash upside down inside. Cover with foil and bake until flesh is soft (roughly 30 minutes).
- Toss vegetables (besides peas, if using frozen) in olive oil with a nice shake of salt and pepper. Spread on a pan and bake alongside squash until soft (20 minutes or so). For the peas, boil them for a few minutes on the stove and then drain and cool.
- Meanwhile, combine quinoa and stock in a medium pot and bring to a boil. When big bubbles start forming, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa has sprouted little tails (about 15 minutes).
- When squash and vegetables are finished cooking, remove from oven and turn temperature down to 350 degrees F. Add cooked vegetables, spinach, and cheese to quinoa pot and stir to combine. Fill squash bowls to the brim with quinoa-vegetable mixture, sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove squash from oven, drizzle about 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar on each one, and garnish with a large pinch of microgreens.
- Savor the meal—and the company.
Adapted from edible Dallas & Fort Worth