Do you know any nutrition nerds, in particular the card-carrying expert kinds called RDs? When I was doing some informational interviews, trying to decide if I was interested in the profession, I asked one RD how she would characterize the people working in dietetics. Her answer (“We’re all very… organized.”) was an understatement – what she meant is that dietetics is full of whip-smart, ambitious, detail-oriented over achievers.
Since I’m not yet an RD but play one on TV, I followed in those type A footprints for this month’s Recipe ReDux. We were tasked with creating recipes that feature fall’s plentiful, orange-hued, carotenoid-rich foods like pumpkin, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and golden beets.
Butternut squash came right to mind – I love these tasty, versatile gourds, which have something like a billion percent (slightly less) of your vitamin A needs, and a nice chunk of vitamin C, potassium, manganese and more. But why stop a just one orange ingredient, or even two? So I backed those squash and stuffed them full of dried apricots, carrots and lot of other goodies.
The result is a baked stuffed squash with cinnamon-infused barley, tart apricots and cranberries, healthy little legumes and a sweet-tart dressing.
I angled for some extra credit with this triple-orange dish, and if you want to boost your kitchen grades too, have a go at the recipe:
Roasted butternut squash stuffed with cinnamon-infused barley, apricots & carrots
2 servings, approx. 500 calories each
1 cup pearled barley
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 butternut squash
1 carrot, peeled and diced into very small pieces
1/3 cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup sliced almonds
½ cup chickpeas
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
½ Tbs olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Grated cinnamon to taste
Bring barley, cinnamon stick and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45-50 minutes (until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the top off the squash near the stem, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and membranes, and use a paring knife, melon baller, or whatever other kitchen wizardry you’ve got going on to make a good-sized “bowl” from each half.
Put the squash cut side down in a large baking dish with ½-1 inch of water, and bake for 30-40 minutes (more for larger, thicker squash).
While the squash is baking, mix ½ cup of the cooked barley, apricots, cranberries, almonds and chickpeas in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and nutmeg. Pour the dressing over the barley mixture and toss to coat.
When the squash has finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat down to 375 F. Carefully remove the squash from the pan. Empty the water from the pan, line the bottom with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Put the squash back in, cut sides up, and spoon half the barley mixture into each half. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon, return the squash to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove, let cool for 5 minutes or so, and serve.
I’m not the only one orange-minded over-achiever, so check out the links to recipes from my fellow ReDuxers: