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October in Houston, Texas is quite the peculiar spectacle.

Pumpkins start to adorn your neighbors’ doorsteps, spiced lattes fill coffee shop menus, and winter vegetables crowd the produce section. You’d think that all of those things would be synonymous with chilly weather and fireplaces… but not for us. It’s still 90 degrees out and the leaves haven’t changed colors! But that doesn’t stop us from wanting all-things-Fall. We still want our lattes (don’t you dare call me basic) and hearty seasonal food to warm our hearts.

One of those hearty meals is this Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries.

The sweet gourd that has been reintroduced at the grocery store is the almighty butternut squash. It is so versatile and makes for a delicious soup, side, salad, you name it. You can have it roasted, sautéed, toasted, and now stuffed. I am officially going to stuff all squashes now because of this recipe.

This Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash with Cranberries is the perfect balance of healthy and wholesome and I love the citrusy kick that the orange zest provides.  I adapted this recipe from Well Plated by Erin.

I decided to up the ante and add more seasoning and juice than what was originally called for. I’m also a sucker for garlic so extra garlic is always a must for me. I bought one squash instead of two and it made 4 servings for a modest appetite. If you have more mouths to feed, then two of the gourds is the way to go.

Let’s get to work!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium butternut squash, about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup quinoa ( I used tri-color)
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 6 lightly packed cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus additional for roasting squash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (plus additional for roasting squash)
  • 1  can low sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup reduced sugar dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds, then place on baking tray cut side up. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until tender with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  2. While the squash is baking, bring vegetable broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa, and cook until done. Fluff with a fork, then set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive over medium. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low. Add the garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 30 additional seconds, until is fragrant. Stir in the chickpeas, orange zest, orange juice, cooked quinoa, and cranberries.
  4. Once the squash has cooled enough, make a boat by carving out some of the flesh from the center by leaving a 1/2-inch-thick border around the sides and a 3/4-inch border along the bottom. Reserve the scooped flesh to add to the filling.
  5. Mix the leftover “scooped out” squash to the kale and quinoa filling and then stuff it all into into the squash halves.
  6. Return the now-stuffed squash to the oven.Bake at 375 degrees until hot, about 10 additional minutes. Squeeze more orange juice to taste and enjoy!
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