Quinoa is an all around great for you food. It is an ancient grain, originally the primary nutrition source of the Incas, and has been popular the last 10-15 years–with good reason. It is naturally high protein. Unlike other vegetarian sources of protein, like lentils and other beans, which must be combined with something like rice in order to provide a complete protein, quinoa is one of the few grains that is a complete protein on its own. Although we are not vegetarian, there are many reasons why I try to reduce how often we eat meat, including environmental, economic and health concerns.
Quinoa is also a great source of fiber, iron, magnesium, essential amino acids and other nutrients. It is naturally low fat, low calorie and gluten free. I serve quinoa as I would rice, along side fish, chicken or vegetable mains. It is also great mixed into salads. I love it most, however, mixed into stuffings and veggie burgers. Whenever making it (which I usually do simply, with just water in a rice cooker) I make extra so as to have leftovers.
This recipe is a twice baked butternut squash with quinoa and parmesan cheese mixed in. I made it super simple as I was juggling a squirmy little one. I would normally sauté an onion, at least, and maybe a carrot, some celery, garlic, etc. and mix it in. But it tasted surprisingly flavorful as is!
Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash Recipe
- 1 large Butternut Squash (any winter squash will do)
- 1 cup cooked Quinoa
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt, pepper, paprika and/or a seasoned salt
Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Reserve the seeds and toast them for snacking (click here to read how.) Salt and pepper the squash and place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat. Bake until soft, or when a fork is easily inserted, about 35-50 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
Remove the squash from the oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out most of the flesh into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, mix, and then refill the shells. Bake another 20-30 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through.
Tips for Feeding Baby:
This is a great dish for babies. Even the earliest eaters (6-7 months) will enjoy the baked squash mixed with quinoa (reserve some for baby before mixing in the egg.) Quinoa on its own is impossibly messy, but mixed with squash it sticks together much better (and tastes better), especially for the independent babes who want to feed themselves. My daughter enjoyed this both with her hands and practicing her growing spoon and fork skills. We served her just the stuffing, while the presentation in the half shell of a squash is pretty enough for company!