It’s blustery! I can’t get over how perfectly fallish it is. Down south we never got many fall days–just a hint of one here and there–but it seems like wind and chilly weather and beautiful skies have settled in the mountains.

On Sunday I went for a short little tromp up Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County. Up there on the ridge the world is a lot clearer and cooler than here in the valley. The sky was an intense deep blue and the wind was whipping me around, the valley perfectly green and stretching for miles–I could have stayed on top for hours, if not for the elderly ladies who seemed to take over the crest. They were cute, but kinda loud.

Every day I’m more and more amazed at how much I love it here. Maybe not the town so much, but the whole area. Every time I hop in my car and drive somewhere it’s like I’m on vacation–everything is new, even when it isn’t. Even though I go the same places every day, it feels like a new experience each time. And what’s not to love about mountains and good people and a crazy amount of small-scale organic farms constantly pushing beautiful, fresh produce into my hands? I have 10 lbs of apples chilling on my counter right now. I can’t wait to tear into them.

Along with apples, however, it’s squash season too. And on Saturday when it rained all day and was chilly and wet and I just wanted to snug up into some blankets and sleep the afternoon away (which I did, actually), I also wanted to roast my way to contentment. Quinoa stuffed acorn squash, anyone? I used the squash as a vessel for whatever I had lying around–quinoa, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, kale from the backyard (I’m going to weep when the kale is gone, but word on the street is I have in on a winter supplier, hooray!), fresh figs, and orange juice. Oh, and the acorn squash of course. All I did was cut it in half, roast it, cook some quinoa, caramelize some onions, saute the kale, and mix the stuffing together with Ricki’s orange fig sauce. Then I popped it back in the oven and let it bake for a little while longer–heaven in a squash.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash
1 tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper

1/2 c quinoa, cooked
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

4 leaves of kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 recipe Ricki’s Orange-Fig Sauce

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side-up in a baking dish and drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on top of the halves. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to coat all the flesh. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top. Roast for 45 minutes or until the squash begins to get tender. Once tender, set aside but leave oven on.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil over low heat–this will take 30-35 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onion. Once caramelize, set aside.

In the pan that you caramelized the onion in, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the kale, saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the quinoa, caramelized onions, kale, and sun dried tomatoes. Add 1/2 the recipe of the orange-fig sauce. Toss to coat everything. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the squash halves, cover with two small pieces of aluminum foil, and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then drizzle with the remaining orange-fig sauce.

Serves 2.

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