It’s all about balance folks. A couple days ago we had a pork feast, today – a vegan dish that brings classic fall flavors together – acorn squash, roasted chestnuts, dried fruit and woodsy mushrooms.

It seems not many people cook chestnuts anymore. They should, because chestnuts are low in fat – rare for a nut, and high in fiber. Perhaps because they are a bit of a hassle to peel. The  trick is to use a sharp knife and never get your fingers in the path of the blade! The chestnuts may be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. I actually recommend this to speed prep time for dinner!

I  also found some quick frozen ceps in the freezer case at the ethnic market and had to give them a try.

This stuffed acorn is packed with fiber,  protein,  and great autumnal flavors. It’s also pretty to look at!

Chestnut, Mushroom, Cherry & Quinoa stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 2

1 acorn squash halved
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup roasted peeled and chopped chestnuts
1 cup mushrooms divided
1/4 cup sweet pepper diced
2 scallions sliced thin
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil divided
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Holding the nut between thumb and forefinger, and using a sharp paring knife insert the tip and cut a slit into the shell, turn the nut 90 degrees and repeat ending up with an X. Always have the blade running away and between your fingers.
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  4. Place chestnuts on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes. The peel where you made the “x” will start to peel back.
  5. Being careful not to burn yourself on the hot nuts (#$%&!), peel back the shell and the skin. They are easy to peel. They look like little brains.  Cut nuts into quarters and set aside.
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  7. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Put cut side down in roasting pan. Add 1 cup water and put in hot oven. Roast for 1 hour or until tender.
  8. Saute the peppers and half the mushrooms with a pinch of salt in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, until soft but not browned.  Set aside.
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  10. Repeat with garlic and the rest of the olive oil and mushrooms. Set aside.
  11. About 1/2 hour before squash is done, cook quinoa according to package instructions, once cooked, fold in pepper/scallion/mushroom mixture, dried cherries and quartered chestnuts. Cover and let steam 15 minutes.
  12. Salt and pepper to taste.
  13. When squash are done,  spoon in quinoa mixture and top with mushrooms sauteed with garlic.

Chewy sweet chestnuts, earthy mushrooms, sweet cherries and a squash cup. Perfect!
Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!