Harvest season makes me happy. Each year I’m so thrilled to see the bounty of everyone’s hard farming work, I’m like a really boring kid in candy store filled with vegetables. A few Sundays ago, what started out as a typical local veggie stock up turned into a massive squash spree. We picked up a few squash and other fantastically fresh veggies (Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, garlic) at the Newburyport Farmers’ Market and then stopped in to Tendercrop Farm for some of their lovely grassfed beef and delicata squash.
What I like about delicata squash is that its small size makes it so very easy to prepare. Peeled and halved lengthwise, they look like little boats waiting to be filled with something lovely.
Like most squash, delicata are sweet, so a mildly savory filling is a nice balance. Conversely, I’ve had butternut squash with Parmesan and garlic in the past, which was alright, but I find the flavors to be too loud to help out the squash. And that’s just the thing with squash - it doesn’t really need help anyway.
What does need is a quiet balance, which is what the mushrooms and quinoa offer in these Stuffed Delicata Squash Boats. On one hand they’re along for the ride, but on the other hand, the squash would be empty without them. What the mushrooms and quinoa don’t do is rock the boat.
I almost forgot to mention that on top of being vegetarian – this would make a fantastic main dish for a vegetarian dinner party – it’s also absurdly nutritious. Squash contains high levels of vitamins A and C. Quinoa contains lots of B vitamins and folate. And the mushrooms contain selenium and a healthful dose of mushroominium – the compound responsible for a positive sense of self-mushroominess. I made up that last part, but I think mushroom lovers will agree with me.
Stuffed Delicata Squash Boats – serves 2 -4
1 C water
1/3 C quinoa
6 – 7 medium crimini mushrooms
1 T butter
1/4 t salt
1/4 C sour cream, plus a bit for garnish
2 small to medium delicata squash
1 T water
1 chive for garnish (optional)
Set the oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse the quinoa in a strainer.
Combine the water and quinoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 – 13 minutes with the lid ajar, until the water is absorbed.
Finely dice the mushrooms. Melt butter in a small frying pan. Add the mushrooms and salt, and cook down until the liquid is rendered – about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the quinoa and mushrooms respectively simmer and saute, peel the squash, leaving the stems on, if desired (they just look more squashy this way). Halve the squash vertically to form boats. If the boats are tippy, slice a bit off of the the bottom that they sit flat. Remove the seeds with a metal spoon or melon baller.
Combine the quinoa and mushrooms with sour cream. Season to taste.
Fill each squash half with the quinoa/mushrooms mixture. Arrange the squash in a lightly greased baking dish with a tablespoon of water. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven. Set the oven to broil and remove the foil. Set the dish on the top rack of the oven and broil for 2 minutes.
Finely chop the chives.
Remove the squash from the oven, plate and garnish with additional sour cream and chives.