You could say I’m a little obsessed with lemons. If my lemon spaghetti squash didn’t give it away, this recipe definitely does. You might think that nearly two lemons in one dish that only yields two servings is extreme, but you have to trust me. There’s just something about lemon juice that makes food taste clean and refreshing, like a sophisticated painting. When I add lemon juice to a dish, I feel like the quality is elevated, like I’m actually dining at a five star restaurant instead of in my own kitchen.
For me, lemon zest and lemon juice is what takes my meal experience to the next level. I think every chef, aspiring chef, or home cook should find that one thing they always love to use in their dishes. Once you’ve found your groove, your go-to, your secret ingredient, that’s when you truly develop your identity in the kitchen. So have fun and experiment. Maybe this recipe will make you love lemons as much as I do, and maybe it won’t. But you’ll never know until you try!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
1 acorn squash
5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1-1/2 lemons
about 1-1/2 cup water
1 pint mushrooms, diced
10 stalks asparagus, diced
2-3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup pine nuts, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using your biggest knife, cut acorn squash in half lengthwise.
3. Scrape out seeds and discard.
4. Place both halves of squash face up in a large glass baking dish.
5. Spread 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil on inside of squash, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Bake squash for 35-40 minutes, or until flesh is tender when poked with a fork.
7. While squash is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for the quinoa.
8. Add lemon zest, and several shakes of both salt and pepper. Quinoa needs a lot of flavoring, so don’t be shy.
9. Pour quinoa into saucepan, and let toast for about 2 minutes.
10. Squeeze juice from one half of a lemon into a liquid measuring cup, and top off with water until there is 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid total.
11. Pour liquid into saucepan, turn up heat to high, and bring mixture to a boil.
12. Once boiling, stir mixture, cover saucepan with a lid, and reduce heat to medium-low for about 15 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
13. While quinoa is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan.
14. Add diced vegetables and sauté for about 5 minutes.
15. Add juice from one half of a lemon, cover pan with lid, and let vegetables steam for about 5 more minutes. Depending on the size of your lemon, you might need to add a little bit of water so you have enough liquid.
16. At this point, the quinoa should be done, but if it isn’t, reduce heat on vegetables to low in the meantime.
17. Add cooked quinoa, juice from the last half of lemon, and tahini to vegetable mixture.
18. Mix until fully incorporated and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
19. When squash is finished cooking, take out of oven, stuff with quinoa, top with pine nuts if you have them, and serve.