Ahhh….turmeric. How I am in love with you.
With your bright-orange colouring, distinct, earthy flavour and versatility from teas to curries to soups to what I have prepared for you guys to try out…this post is for you.
If you are looking for your new fall flavour, look no further than to the warming spices of Moroccan inspiration.
Used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and boasting many amazing properties such as anti-inflammatories, anti-oxidants, digestive and healing agents, turmeric has gained a lot of attention as of late.
The most important component of turmeric is curcumin. This is a proven anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. However, taken just from the turmeric root, it is difficult to truly achieve the potency required to do it any justice. But have no fear, because while some scientists believe that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in most chronic western diseases today such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and more, basically in a nutshell, when used properly, yes-it contains powerful anti-oxidants that combats free radicals.
Look, let’s face it. As I get older (I am in my early 40’s) I believe it is important to have a healthy, preventative medicine/plan of attack regime which includes clean eating and pushing out as many free radicals as you possibly can. If I can make a beautiful meal that incorporates turmeric, heck, game on.
(it should be noted to really achieve the true benefits of turmeric, one should take a supplement. I always use fresh turmeric and avoid the powdered version in my cooking practices).
Here is one particular recipe I have been playing with that incorporates a healthy dose of turmeric, Vitamin C, A, B and folate…ok, I will stop preaching how good it is for you and just tell you, this recipe is DARN GOOD.
Moroccan-inspired Stuffed Acorn Squash
-Vegetarian (but easily made Vegan)
This is a delicious, buttery-glazed and warmly-spiced Moroccan dish that highlights the use of turmeric and ginger root.
- 1 acorn squash, halved (tip: slice an inch off the bottom of the squash to bring it to a sturdy, standing position, then slice clean through the middle, removing seeds and scooping out centre clean to allow for 1-1/2 cups of filling. You can save and toast the seeds for later, or add as an interesting, crunchy topping, if you wish)
- 1 Cup couscous
- 1/4 Cup Panko
- 1 tbsp good quality EVOO
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp grated fresh turmeric
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 Cup shelled garbanzo beans (rinse under hot water and peel off outer skin)
- 1/4 Cup golden sultana raisins, soaked in warm/hot water for 10 minutes
- 1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp of: cinnamon, cumin and smoked paprika
- 1 tsp butter (omit if preparing vegan)
- 1/4-1/2 C vegetable stock
- Salt and Pepper (freshly ground)
- Coriander, for garnish (trimmed and chopped)
Note: This is all about respecting the ingredients. I cannot stress this enough. You need to warm your spices up before cooking the couscous and timing is everything.
1. Set oven to 350 degrees. lightly oil your halved squash, salt and pepper lightly, placing face down on a dark roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Set a timer. Use cooking spray or parchment paper if required but goal is to give the squash a nice little crust, not burn it.
2. While squash is roasting, toast/warm spices. Begin by browning the butter with a touch of olive oil, and incorporating the onion. Once it softens (1-2 minutes) add turmeric, ginger, garlic. Cook on low-goal is to soften, not brown so make sure your burner flame is LOW. add spices (all of them…cumin, cinnamon, etc) and lightly warm up for another minute or so until fragrant.
3. Add stock and couscous, slowly, bringing to high heat and alternating so stock is bubbly. Remove from heat once all ingredients incorporated, adding raisins, garbanzo beans and half of the toasted almonds once you remove the couscous from the heat to rest (5 minutes cook time, 5 minutes rest time).
4. Check on your squash-it should be almost ready by now to flip over and stuff. Warm in your microwave a small bit of the butter and mix with brown sugar and heat for 20 seconds until bubbly. Turn your squash over at the last five minutes and “baste” with this mixture.
5. Remove squash from oven and turn on to low broil and set timer for two minutes.
6. Scoop your stuffing into the hollows of the squash, top with a sprinkle of panko and broil for two minutes max (check it, as ovens vary)
7. Remove from heat, top with fresh chopped coriander and remaining toasted almonds, and enjoy!
Total cook time: 32 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes