Once upon a time, there was an unassuming whole food vegan (gluten-free) one-pot meal on my stove nearly every week. Like my Bright Yellow Spit Pea and Rice Pilaf, it had just 5 ingredients (6 if you count the cooking water). When it comes off the flame, it looks like this:
After a half hour of unsupervised simmering on the stove and a few minutes of “down time” after that, it’s ready to spoon onto a plate, be part of a salad, a burrito or taco, or even an instant bowl of soup made with leftovers, veggies and their steam water (one of my easy vegan favorites):
Often, though, my first taste of this has been right out of the pot, by the warm spoonful and straight into my mouth, before it goes into anything else.
Weeks hurried by. As I sketched and painted and dreamed up fancier things to blog about for the holidays, like the Gluten Free Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Apricot Carob Filling, this one pot meal was my mainstay. I’d find myself snapping a quick photo of it here and there in various stages of getting eaten up, thinking I would blog about it the next time. And the next.
As it came to pass that the actual Thanksgiving Day was very close at hand, it occurred to me that this one-pot vegan wonder would make a fabulous stuffing for squash, with nothing more added to it than a few dried cranberries and some fresh flat leaf parsley, maybe some extra seasonings or a few nuts or seeds. And thus, the Fastest Whole Food (Gluten-Free) Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing in the West was born.
Red Quinoa Brown Rice Lentil Stuffed Squash
The one pot vegan basics:
1/2 cup red quinoa
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup brown or green lentils, any variety
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel powder
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups water
Put everything in a medium sized pot and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it sit covered for another 10 minutes.
To transform this lovely one pot meal into stuffing, toss it with a big fistful of dried cranberries and a bit fistful of chopped Italian parsley. Other add-ins that would pop the flavors out are grated garlic or garlic granules, a dash of lime juice, a a pinch of lime zest, marjoram, or any of the traditional “stuffing” herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage. A quick way to add that taste is with unsalted poultry seasoning powder. For a more Southwest flair, add chile peppers or substitute cilantro for the parsley. To be more decadent, add some diced avocado, or a few pistachios or pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts. Up to you and your culinary imagination. If by some miracle you are feeding a throng of whole food low-fat vegans, you can double the recipe.
You can stuff this into any winter squash you can get cut into halves to bake. I used delicata squash, which are my favorites for something like this because they are easy to slice in half and gut and they taste great. The skin is so soft you can eat that too, if you like.
To bake delicata or other smaller squash this way, I preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I sprinkle garlic granules on the cut and seeded squash halves. I place the halves cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment. I bake them for about 45 minutes, until the outsides are soft to the touch.
Once the squash are cool enough to flip over, fill them with the stuffing. If necessary or desired, reheat in the oven for a few minutes. Dig in. Or top with your favorite low fat vegan gravy.
Notes: I get my red quinoa in bulk at the Moscow Food Co-op. I have never rinsed it, and it’s never bitter. But some quinoa does not come pre-washed. If you are uncertain, rinse it first.
So now you’re armed and ready with the recipe for the Fastest Whole Food (Gluten-Free) Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing in the West. If you’ll be facing down a SAD Thanksgiving table and don’t have a lot of time to cook, whip this up and pull it out of your whole food holster at proverbial “Aunt Milly’s” holiday get together. You won’t feel deprived, you’ll be eating great food, and I’m betting someone else will at least say, “hey, that looks pretty good.” It’s a sure-shot healthy meal in a dangerous boom town of fat and gluten and animal protein that can stand with the best of ’em. See you at high noon at the dinner table.