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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Eight Ball Squash Stuffed with Bacon Pesto Quinoa

My mother came over this week with a large shopping bag stuffed full of fresh cut basil. It had just been picked and she needed to off load half of it to a willing taker. Of course I did not hesitate to unload some of her bounty. But in order to be able to use the entirety of basil that she brought before it spoiled I knew I would need to make some fresh pesto that I could freeze and enjoy year round. And thats exactly what I did.

As I sat looking at my mammoth tupperware container of pesto sauce to freeze I decided that before placing it in my freezer to sit a spell, I would try to use a bit of it for dinner. And it must have been my lucky week because not only did my mother bring me heaps of fresh basil but some friends came down from Sacrament and brought us some fresh vegetables from their garden. And it was when the eight ball squash, that they had brought, caught my eye that everything started to fall into place.

It seems I always have a mental inventory of what is in my refrigerator, freezer and cupboards at all times...and by doing so, it allows for brief moments of inspiration when ingredients just fly out of my rolodex and into an incredible recipe. Oh boy thats what happened this time! I combined my fresh pesto with some quinoa and for a little sinful addition I added some bacon, cheese, onion and mushrooms. I stuffed it all into my hollowed squash and then topped these cuties off with an extra layer of cheese just to send it over the edge. Divine, warm, hearty, comforting and tasty, all wrapped up in one cute round eight ball squash!

Eight Ball Squash Stuffed with Bacon Pesto Quinoa

5 eight ball squash, tops removed and hollowed out
1 cup cooked quinoa
heaping 1/4 cup pesto sauce
6 slices bacon
2 cups mushrooms, rough chop
1 cup onions, diced
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock

Cook your quinoa according to package directions and add a heaping 1/4 cup of pesto; stir to combine. Cook your bacon strips in a large pan until golden and just beginning to crisp. Remove bacon from pan and cut into bite size pieces once cooled. Keep the bacon fat in the pan and add the onion and sauté until translucent; add mushrooms and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the quinoa along with the bacon and cheese. Stir to combine and taste for needed salt and pepper. 
Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off of your squash and hollow out the centers.

Stuff your squash with the quinoa mixture and place into an oven safe dish.

Pour your chicken stock into the pan about a 1/4 in depth. Place int he oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each squash. Place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Enjoy!

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