Return of the squash, part 100.
You guys, I adore squash. How is it even a vegetable? It’s creamy. None of this watery crunchy vegetable stuff. This is smooth velvety yellow veggie seduction. Annnnd as if this hot squash topic couldn’t already get more controversial, this just in: I now eat the squash skin.
Yes, it’s true. I’m becoming one of THOSE people. *eyes get wide*
But there is just nothing that I can’t love about those bright yellow and green squash halves, loaded with spiced red quinoa, black beans, cheddar cheese, and roasted corn… (not done yet)… topped with green onions for a kick and crema and queso fresco for a creamy finish. Ahhhh. This is what healthy food should taste like.
You are still fixated on the weirdness of the skin, aren’t you? Okay okay okay. I just crossed over like, yesterday, so I completely get it and I’m sorry for being a tiny bit weird. But the good news is that you don’t have to eat the skin to love this recipe. Hello? Cute little bowl of healthy Mexican that can be scooped out with a spoon? I think so.
And for you squash haters who continue to read through my squash recipe posts even though you wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole (I don’t get you, but you’re sweet for still reading): this roasted corn and red quinoa and black bean and cheddar cheese filling is enough to get you happy dancing around your kitchen with the clock strikes dinnertime, with or without the squash. Not endorsing, just saying.
I would like to take a quick nanosecond to give a shout out to coworker who gifted me the squash (yes you, Lori). I promised her that I would put them in my fridge and do something fun with them when we came back from Montana, and I never break a squash promise. Except I promised to bring whatever I made to work, and that’s going to be a little difficult being that these are all, umm, eaten. But is gifted food the best or what? Especially seasonal produce. If you have some spare produce laying around looking for a good home, I’m now accepting. F-Y-I.
In the spirit of full disclosure, there’s something you should know. I’ve never been able to fully commit to the quinoa movement. I just have never really liked it that much. Blasphemy, yes.
For this recipe I’m using red quinoa, and I don’t know what’s going on but something about the red color makes this quinoa just… better. Which is actually weird because as I’m reading about it now, I’m finding out that red quinoa has more of that earthy flavor which is what I thought I didn’t like. I obviously have a really refined palate.
I had seen an episode with Guy Fieri on the Food Network sometime during our Montana road trip where he was making some kind of stuffed peppers with red quinoa, and I thought to myself, I need to get me somma that red quinoa A-sap. Primarily because it looks more like ground meat and it makes a better color contrast for my pictures. And just like that, I liked it.
Moral of the story: let’s not get carried away, but sometimes quinoa is good. Sometimes.
Time to talk peel. Or skin. The outer squash layer that is green, unknown, and scary.
I decided to just go for it. I had seen an old tutorial from Kath Eats Real Food where she said she eats the squash skin, and she’s Kath, and she eats real food, so…obviously it’s the right thing to do.
I was really surprised about a few things:
- The skin was soft. I could easily bite right into it, which I did, thank you very much. When you force it into a foil-covered steam bath for 50 minutes, it gets soft. Thumbs up.
- It didn’t really have a taste. Honestly, I thought it might be bitter or bad tasting but it was very neutral. Again, thumbs up.
- I found out that it’s really healthy. SIX thumbs up.
- Bjork started by scooping the squash out with the filling, and eventually caved and ate the squash skin by his own convincing. Um, what? This is the same man who I can almost guarantee had a Sausage McMuffin for breakfast on his way to work this morning. I ♥ him.
Time to go steal the squash out of your neighbor’s garden. Happy eating!
- 3 small acorn squash
- ¾ cup uncooked red quinoa
- 1½ cups rinsed black beans
- ¾ cup corn
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- sliced green onions for topping
- Queso fresco and crema Mexicana for topping
- For the squash: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place face down in a baking pan, cover halfway with water, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- For the filling: Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Place the corn in a dry skillet over high heat and let the corn cook without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Stir once and repeat until the corn is browned and roasty. Add the cooked quinoa, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir for 4-5 minutes over high heat. Add the black beans and stir for another 4-5 minutes over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup of cheddar cheese.
- Assembling the squash: Turn on the oven broiler (or just turn the temp to 400). Divide the filling evenly among the six cooked squash halves. Top each with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top each squash piece with crumbled queso fresco, crema Mexicana, and green onions.
I used spicy homemade black beans that were made with garlic, onion, and lots of hot peppers. If you are using canned beans and you like your Mexican food to pack a punch, you might want to consider adding some sauteed diced onion, garlic, or jalapeño to the quinoa black bean mixture.