rē•gather Around the Table: A Hearty Harvest Dish to Serve This Season
Eating in season gives this recipe an extra health kick.
It’s that time of year when we crave hearty, mouth-watering foods that scream harvest season, and this healthy, plant-based fall recipe checks all of our boxes. From sweet and nutty squash to earthy carrots and crispy apples, it’s the perfect addition to an autumnal feast. Moreover, since it calls for seasonal ingredients, it packs a nutrient-dense punch, making it a worthwhile go-to for the upcoming chilly month.
Seasonal eating is all about consuming fresh produce from local farmers. “The produce is picked at peak ripeness and does not need to be transported long distances, resulting in fresher, tastier, and more nutrient-dense produce,” explains Jennifer Maeng, a clinical and culinary registered dietitian in New York and Miami. “By contrast, foods that are grown out of season are not able to follow their natural growing and ripening patterns, and must survive long transit times from farms around the world to your local grocery store.” These ingredients are then “often treated with post-harvest chemical ripening agents and coated in edible film” that takes away from the nutritiousness found in in-season produce.
This sounds especially appealing when the weather is cooler, and the immune system can benefit from new sources of vitamins and minerals. This stuffed acorn squash recipe features a carrot, apple, and kale quinoa filling rich in vital nutrients while adding a cornucopia of color to your plates. Maeng goes through the list of nutritional benefits to be found in these ingredients. She adds that squash is an excellent source of carotenoids, a precursor to vitamin A, and supports a strong and healthy immune system. Apples, meanwhile, provide vitamin C and other antioxidants that protect against free radical damage from the inside-out. Carrots are rich in beta and alpha-carotene — which convert to vitamin A — as well as fiber, potassium, and more antioxidants. Kale is a fantastic plant-based source of calcium with anti-inflammatory benefits and vitamins A, K, and C. Lastly, quinoa is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids and is a high-quality protein similar to that of animal-source protein.
The benefits of this stuffed squash recipe do not end here. It also includes garlic, sunflower seeds, and pomegranate seeds. Garlic is a known antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal ingredient linked to anti-inflammatory and immunity-promoting benefits. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and zinc, helping to ward off and shorten colds. Finally, pomegranate seeds are rich in immunity-boosting and anti-aging antioxidants. Combined, these ingredients make a gorgeous fall dish that nourishes and protects with every bite.
- Two small acorn squash halved with seeds removed
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- ½ Gala apple
- Two medium carrots
- 2-3 Cloves of garlic
- 1 Handful of chopped kale
- 1 Tbsp of raw unsalted sunflower seeds
- Pinch of nutritional yeast
- Splash of vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 Tbsp crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Method of Preparation:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). While heating the oven, rinse the squash and cut them in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and drizzle olive oil over the cut sides. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
- Place squash face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until squash is cooked through.
- While the squash cooks, prepare the filling. Cut carrots and apples into small cubes, and chop garlic and kale.
- Drizzle olive oil into a medium skillet on medium heat and stir in chopped garlic cloves. After about 1 minute, toss in chopped carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in chopped apples and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste—Cook for 2 minutes.
- Once the carrot and apple mixture softens, add a splash of vegetable broth (or chicken stock) and cook for five more minutes.
- Stir in a pinch of nutritional yeast and turn the stovetop low heat.
- Add in a handful of chopped kale and stir until kale wilts.
- Add the apple, carrot, kale mixture, sunflower seeds, and crumbled goat cheese (optional) to a mixing bowl. Stir in cooked quinoa and set aside.
- Take the squash halves out of the oven and use tongs to flip them over—stuff to the brim with the filling and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
- For extra crispiness on top, broil for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove stuffed squash from the oven and plate. Add a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds on top and serve.
Editor’s Note: This recipe serves 4. If you wish to make it for 2, we recommend using one acorn squash (2 halves) and sticking to the listed measurements for the stuffing. Any leftover filling can be saved and topped with a fried egg for breakfast.