There may not be a more beautiful or perfect vessel than an acorn squash to elicit everything that encompasses fall. Its lovely green skin, opening up into an earthy, pumpkin-like flesh, is to die for. The combination of ingredients in this recipe serves to enhance that earthiness – the nutty quinoa, the tart cranberries, the smoky hazelnuts, and the salty feta. The herbs and spices along with the citrus create a perfect medley of tasting notes, evoking a depth of flavor and intention. This recipe is best enjoyed on a cold day with friends and family. It would also be a wonderful vegetarian alternative at any holiday meal.
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.
Use 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil to brush the cut sides of the squash, and then place them face down on a baking sheet.
Pierce the skins of the squash a few times with a fork and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil, add the quinoa, and turn the heat down to a simmer.
Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Let the quinoa cool for five minutes and then fluff with a fork.
After the squash has been roasting for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven, flip the halves over, and sprinkle the cut side with a dash of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, sea salt, and black pepper.
Place the squash back in the oven, cut side up, and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes, until the flesh is tender and you can easily poke a knife through it.
While the squash is continuing to roast and the quinoa is cooling, toast the hazelnuts in a small pan over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly until you can smell their nutty aroma.
Remove from the heat immediately. Let cool and then chop roughly.
Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, place it in a medium mixing bowl and add the remaining one tablespoon of coconut oil, plus the freshly squeezed orange juice, thyme, mint, parsley, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and sea salt.
Stir to combine, then add the cranberries, toasted hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds, feta, orange zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fold together ingredients with a spatula and set aside.
Place squash on a plate and spoon in the quinoa mixture until the cavity is full and slightly overflowing.
Garnish with feta, hazelnuts, parsley, and the extra pomegranate seeds.