A Vegan Gives Thanks: Quinoa & Seitan Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving for vegans? Where shall I begin… First and foremost, I'd like to begin with how thankful I am for all of the vegans arou...

Thanksgiving for vegans? Where shall I begin… First and foremost, I'd like to begin with how thankful I am for all of the vegans around the world each day helping to inspire others to live lives of compassion and free of cruelty. I am also very thankful for my loving family who is very supportive of me and eats all the vegan food I cook! My dad even started veganizing his muffins by using applesauce in place of eggs! Thanksgiving dinner would never be worrisome for me because I've got three vegetarians on one side of my family and a sister-in-law (to be!) that's also vegan! So no matter where I end up, I'll always have some vegan company, not to mention that my fiancé is vegetarian and almost vegan by default, since I cook all of his food. I'm pretty lucky. My family is always willing to try all the food I make, but also makes sure I have plenty to eat. Without the support of these great people it would be a lot harder to maintain veganhood. Looking around the world today, it is more apparent than ever that I have way more to be thankful for than most of the people sharing this world with us to date. Now is a great time to reflect on that and give thanks!

Without further adieu, I'd like to share with you a dish I made today. It's inspired by a dish I ate earlier this fall at Hinge in Northampton, MA. My interpretation of it, is an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, seitan, and mixed veggies! It's sitting on top of a bed of lemony spinach and onions and drizzled with some tart pomegranate molasses. It would be a great main course for Thanksgiving, full of veggies and protein and all the stuff your family might ask you about where you get it. Calcium, check. Protein, double check. Most importantly, it tastes really good. Vegans care about how stuff tastes too.
I fed this to my squash-aversed BF and he actually cleaned his plate. Basically, I'm feeling like I'm on a little bit of a home-run high or maybe just high on squash. It only took me about an hour to do this start to finish, so just follow some time-saving tips and you can too. Even you, Mom.
First, determine how many portions you want! If you want only two, cut this recipe in half. If you want it to feed 8 or a very hungry vegan lumberjack, double it. 
We are going to be roasting things, so make sure you prep the veggies to be roasted first, that way you can take care of everything else while the other veggies roast.

Each squash half is going to feed 1 person. I roasted two cut-side up and two cut-side down. Why? Not sure. In hindsight, I would have roasted them all cut-side down, to decrease cook-time. Should of had hindsight...

You don't need a whole butternut squash for this recipe, but are you really going to peel and chop only a third of it? Just roast it all up and make a salad or a soup later this week. What's that? Thanksgiving is this week? Well, perfect! Use it then!

I like this rainbow quinoa because it is beautiful and colorful and interesting (like me) and it looks great in the finished product, but any kind of quinoa will work fine. 1 cup of dry quinoa makes about 4 cups of cooked quinoa, and I'm making 4 portions. So do all that math according to who you're feeding and then measure your quinoa.
This is the part where I got lazy and forgot to take more pictures.
I remembered while I was toasting almonds, so I took a pic of that so you guys wouldn't get mad.

About an hour after I started, I emerged from the kitchen all festive and housewivey with these two beautiful plates!

That pomegranate molasses drizzle really tasted great with everything and I think made it extra "holiday tasting" but you could totally use balsamic vinegar or just leave it off if you can't find it, don't have any, or just don't feel like roaming isles in Whole Foods.

I garnished mine with toasted chopped almonds. Everybody likes almonds right? No? Okay, use toasted chopped pecans. No pecans? Use walnuts. Don't like nuts? Leave them off. Everyone is happy.

When I make a totally elegant meal I get real fancy, plop it down on the table with a beer and marathon Twin Peaks. Doesn't everyone do that?

I would have at least served this with red wine if it were in fact Thanksgiving. But it isn't and I have a surplus of beer and well, we just can't have that..

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Vegans out there!! May your tables be filled with tofurkys, tempeh bacon and thanks.

Quinoa & Seitan Stuffed Acorn Squash:

2 acorn squash
1 red bell pepper
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 1/2 cups seitan, chopped small
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1 pound spinach, washed
1/3 cup white wine
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup chopped almonds

pomegranate molasses, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Slice the acorn squash into halves. Place cut-side down on a baking tray. Slice the red bell pepper in half and place each half cut-side down on the tray next to the squash. Peel and cube the butternut squash and roast either alongside or in a separate baking dish. Put both trays/baking dishes in the preheated oven and roast for about 35 minutes or until squash is tender.
While the squash roasts, make the stuffing. First, rinse the quinoa and add it to a 2-quart saucepan. Add the veggie broth, salt, paprika, thyme, dried basil, sage, and fennel seeds. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until there is no remaining broth. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat up a cast-iron or heavy pan with a little oil and add the seitan. Cook until browned and remove from pan. Set aside. In the same pan, add the sliced red onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat until nicely softened. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Add the spinach and white wine. Cook for 1 minute or until wilted. Add the juice of half the lemon and turn off the heat. Add half the cooked red onion to the spinach.
Combine the quinoa in a large bowl with the seitan, the remaining half of the red onion and the remaining half of lemon's juice. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Peel the skin off the peppers and remove the seeds. Slice into strips and then slice those strips into thirds. Add them to the quinoa with the cubed butternut squash and the chopped fresh basil. Stir and taste for seasonings, adding more salt as needed.
Now take a big scoop of the filling and mound it into the cup of each squash. The filling should be packed in and over-filling the cup of the squash. Place the stuffed squashes back into the oven for ten minutes. Meanwhile, toast up your almonds in a dry sauté pan for about 5 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Once the squash are done, remove from oven. Spoon some of the spinach and onion mixture onto each plate. On top of the spinach, place a stuffed squash. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Carefully drizzle the pomegranate molasses over each plate. Serve!

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