Pretty Stuffed Pumpkins

It’s the time of year when squashes and pumpkins abound. What to do? Refer to The Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman—a book that is packed not only with recipes, but also with tips on living an ├╝ber-green lifestyle. You will definitely learn something about the planet, including: the pros and cons of the farming of fish, how to read eco labels, how to eat organically for health, and much more. This recipe not only makes for a gorgeous presentation, it’s ranks 10+ on the health scale.

An excerpt from the book:

Pumpkins Stuffed with Quinoa, Butternut, and Cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
About 1 cup diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in cold water and drained
2 cups Vegetable Stock, or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
4 small edible pumpkins, Sweet Dumpling squash, or small acorn squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and ground cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the quinoa to the saucepan and stir to coat the grains. Add the stock and raise the heat to high. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, add the cranberries, and cover the pan. Cook at a slow simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut the top off each pumpkin, reserving the tops, if desired, for decorative effect. Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. If the pumpkins do not sit flat, trim a small slice off the bottom to create a flat base. Place the pumpkins on a rimmed baking sheet and set it aside.
4. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and heat it over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cubed butternut squash and cook without stirring until the squash is browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Toss to turn the pieces (or use a spatula to accomplish this) and cook, stirring frequently, until the squash is just tender, about 2 minutes more. Set aside.
5. When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Add the butternut squash, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
7. Divide the quinoa filling among the pumpkin shells; do not pack the mixture. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the quinoa is hot and the flesh of the pumpkins is tender when pierced with a skewer or fork, 45 to 60 minutes. Avoid overcooking, because the pumpkins may collapse. If you intend to use the pumpkin tops, add these to the oven during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
8. Serve immediately, with the tops (if using) leaning against the stuffed pumpkins. Serves 4.

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