Spicy Squash Boats with Fruity Quinoa Pilaf

Spicy Squash Boats with Fruity Quinoa Pilaf

This recipe is contributed by Susan, author of the blog The Wimpy Vegetarian.

As we speed into the season where cooking and eating is a sport, and so many meals are meat-centric, I ponder my options. It’s not that I don’t eat any meat at all, I am, after all, a wimpy vegetarian, but my body no longer feels as healthy with meat as the main event as it once did. Thankfully, I’ve spent the last year exploring a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains and I don’t feel the edge of panic I did last November.

squash boats

Last week, as I started to form some ideas around possible Thanksgiving side dishes that could double as vegetarian / vegan entrees, my thoughts immediately flew to squash. Our local farmer’s markets are burgeoning with more kinds and shapes of squash than I suspected even existed, their Rubinesque forms all dressed up in warm autumn colors. One of my favorites to work with is Delicata. It’s shape lends itself to boats or sliced into rings, the skin thin enough not to require any peeling, and it roasts faster than many other autumn and winter squash. Other grains would work wonderfully in this recipe, farro comes to mind, but quinoa pairs so beautifully with fruit and has that extra protein punch, that this is what I’ll be putting on my Thanksgiving table this year.

squash boats2

Spicy Delicata Squash Boats with Fruity Quinoa Pilaf

Serves 8


Roasting Sauce:

2 tbsps minced chipotles in adobo sauce

2 tsps hoisin sauce

2 tbsps maple syrup

1 tbsp apple cider

1/8 tsp kosher salt

4 Delicata squash, halved lengthwise with seeds and pulp removed

Mocha Sprinkle:

2 tsps chocolate nibs

2 tsps coconut palm sugar

Fruity Quinoa Pilaf:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water or vegetable broth

1 cup apple cider

1 tbsp Calvados Apple Brandy

1 apple

1 tbsp minced dried apricots

2 tbsps dried cranberries

1 tbsp chocolate nibs


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the Roasting Sauce ingredients except the squash. Lay each Delicata half, cut side facing up, on the lined baking sheet and brush the Roasting Sauce on all cut surfaces. Coat the squash well, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the squash and baste a second coat of the Roasting Sauce on the surfaces. Roast for another 15 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the bowl of each Delicata half with Mocha Sprinkles while still hot.
  4. Rinse the quinoa very well, rubbing it between your hands as you rinse it. In a small pot over medium heat, bring the water (or vegetable broth, if preferred) to a simmer. Add the quinoa and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  5. While the quinoa is cooking, bring the apple cider and Calvados to a simmer in a second small pot. Peel the apple, core and seed it, and chop it into very small chunks. Add to the simmering cider along with the remaining Fruity Pilaf ingredients. Simmer until the cider is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Strain, retaining the reduced apple cider.
  6. Combine 2 cups cooked quinoa with the fruit and toss. Add a couple of tablespoons of the reduced apple cider, to taste. Spoon it over the Delicata boats.
  7. Serve warm.

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