Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Stuffing

I went back and forth about what to write here today. Do I talk about all the stuff that's going on in our lives... the work, the house projects, our upcoming travels? Do I talk about the presidential election? Or the weather, which has been pretty fall-like recently (though today it's in the 70s and feels like summer... what's the deal with that)? I'm a little too tired to talk about any of these things, so I'm going to stick with this recipe (I'm sure you'll hear more from me about all of those other topics later on). This is one of those recipes that just popped up out of nowhere. I usually neglect winter squash when we get it from our food-coop, but for some reason I decided to put in the oven immediately. I made a mad rush to see what we had to pair with it and, thankfully, found all the ingredients for a quick filling. This is one of those dishes that makes the house smell wonderful, with those sweet, nutty aromas from the baking squash and the scent of sautéed onion and garlic and rosemary simmering on the stove. I'd forgotten just how delicious roasted squash can be. It's a recipe I'll be returning to again quite a few times this winter. 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Stuffing

2 servings

For the roasted acorn squash
1 acorn squash, tops trimmed and the squash cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
Olive oil

For the Quinoa Stuffing
1/2 cup red quinoa
1 cup veggie broth
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb white button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thinly
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon
Olive oil
Black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rub squash with olive oil and season generously with salt. Place, cut side down, on the pan bake for 30 minutes, until fork tender and golden brown. 

While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Add the veggie broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Stir in the quinoa, cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer until all the veggie broth has been absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, chopped celery, and chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add quinoa to the mixing bowl with the cooked vegetables. Stir to combine. Add dried cranberries, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.  

Spoon filling into the cut side of the acorn squash.


Pan-Seared Salmon with Israeli Couscous + A Giveaway

Just before I began my junior year of high school, I decided to give up red meat. I'd come to realize that I was consuming way too much of it and it really didn't make me feel good. Soon after, I gave up poultry (a harder decision, given my love for roast chicken and chicken salad). I decided to stick with a mostly vegetarian diet with a good amount of seafood thrown into the mix (aka pescetarianism). I have always enjoyed a nicely cooked piece fish and it was around that time that I was introduced to sushi, which I immediately became obsessed with. Eating this way made me feel better, lighter even. I saw fairly quickly that I was actually losing weight. Photographing food at restaurants almost every day, I'm constantly surrounded by beautiful plates of lamb and chicken (and SO many burgers), and I have to explain to these chefs that, unfortunately, while it looks and smells amazing, I'll have to pass on trying it and suggest that the kitchen staff gets their hands on all those dishes. When I divulge that I keep pescatarian, they always agree... there are few things better than a beautiful filet of salmon or a piece of grilled swordfish or halibut. 

So, now that I've explained my love for seafood... now I can go into my adoration for this gorgeously designed fish pan I was sent by All-Clad. I feel like I've mastered oven roasted/broiled and grilled fish down, but I've sometimes found pan-searing to be a little challenging (mainly, flipping the filet over in the pan, which can easily fall a part and make a mess if not done correctly). The riveted stainless-steel interior makes all if it so much easier and I didn't have any problems getting the fish flipped. I'm so excited for this addition to my cookware collection and I know that you will enjoy it as well. Which brings us to...

GIVEAWAY DETAILS! All-Clad has been kind enough to provide one of their Stainless-Steel Fish Pans to a lucky reader!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person. Eligible to US residents only (sorry international friends)! Giveaway ends at 12PM EST on Monday, October 17, 2016. The winner will be notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. (Note: Be sure to fill out the e-mail field in the comment form) 

Disclaimer: While All-Clad sent me this product for review, I have not been monetarily compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Salmon with Israeli Couscous

Serves 2

Olive oil
1.5 cups Israeli couscous
1/2 red pepper, diced
3/4 cup raisins
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 lb salmon fillet (skin on)
Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Black pepper
4 lemon slices
Fresh chive

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add couscous and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Add 3 cups of water to the pot. Once the water comes to a boil, cover the saucepan with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 15 minutes. 

Transfer the cooked couscous to a bowl. Add the diced red pepper and raisins. Sprinkle the garlic powder, parsley, almonds, and lemon zest on top and stir to combine. Season with salt, to taste.

Season salmon fillet (flesh and skin) with salt. Set a large skillet (or fish pan) over high heat and pre-heat for 2 minutes. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add butter. Once the butter has melted, set fish in the pan, skin-side down, and cook until it is cooked 3/4 of the way up the fillet. Use a spatula to carefully flip the fish over so the flesh side is down, and cook for another 2 minutes (maybe less if it's a thinner piece). Season with salt and black pepper. Garnish with lemon slices and chive.  Serve with Israeli couscous. 

The Harvest Spritzer (Featuring Truly Spiked & Sparkling)

This post is sponsored by Truly Spiked & Sparkling. Thank you for supporting the brands that make A Thought For Food possible.

The other weekend, Eric and I were invited to a tailgating party/BBQ at our friend Dan's apartment. Massive piles of grilled sausage and hot dogs were served (it was a little lost on me, the non-meat eater of the bunch). Despite being the odd man out, I had a blast hanging with a bunch of food-loving folk on a beautiful autumn afternoon (plus, there were lots of fun photo ops). My contribution was a corn salad and a cooler of Truly. So, I have this cooler that's about halfway filled with bottles. Shortly after things get started, a few more people arrive with... yup... more Truly! Of course, no one complained. You can never have too much boozy sparkling water on hand, especially when you're washing down giant hot dogs (in fact, most of it went). Just thought it was funny. Apparently it's the IT drink. Who knew?!?!

Of their three flavors, I'm a bit partial to the Colima Lime Truly Spiked & Sparkling. So many beverages try to replicate "lime flavor," but this tastes just like lime. It's subtle, but definitely noticeable. Each can or bottle is only 100 calories, which is nice and low for an alcoholic beverage, and is 5% ABV. While they're super refreshing on their own, I am sharing a little creation here that I came up with to ease into fall. As to not detract from its delicate lime flavor, I simply muddled some ginger, and added tequila (because a little extra booze never hurts) and a few dashes of cranberry bitters. Topped with Truly, it's a great sipper, one that can be served at an upcoming holiday or tailgating party. 

The Harvest Spritzer (featuring Truly Spiked & Sparkling)

1 drink

1.5 oz tequila
2-3 peeled ginger slices
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (see recipe below)
3-4 dashes Cranberry bitters
1 bottle or can of Truly Spiked & Sparkling Colima Lime

In a mixing glass, add tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and ginger slices. Using a muddler, mash ginger to infuse the tequila and lime juice. Strain into a highball glass. Add 3-4 dashes of cranberry bitters. Fill glass with ice. Top with Truly Spiked & Sparkling Colima Lime

Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before using. Store in a lidded jar in the fridge for up to a month.