"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Butternut Squash Stuffed with Bison, Quinoa, Seasonal Veggies ~ Farmer's Market Feast

I was unfamiliar with bison, but have been craving meat for a while so I did some research on "healthier" meats and found that bison is actually the healthiest...and I can honestly say, the tastiest! For my recent 'Farmer's Market Cooking Class' we prepared a main dish of squash stuffed with bison, quinoa and seasonal vegetables.  Hearty, wholesome, healthy and I am a big fan of the Golden Gate Meat Company - with their helpful & knowledgeable staff. I've purchased delicious soppressata, prosciutto, and bison from them. If you are cooking a meat meal, I highly recommend the Golden Gate Meat Company! 

Health Benefits:
  • Bison are handled as little as possible. Their lives are spent roaming grass fields and they spend minimal time in feedlots
  • Bison has as any many Omega-3s as Salmon!
  • Bison are not subjected to questionable hormones, drugs or chemicals
  • The high iron content and low cholesterol make this an especially good meat for women
  • Bison has high concentrations of selenium, a natural element that acts a mood elevator...this is the real "happy meal" - take that McDonald's!
    Ecological Benefits:
    • As bison graze fields, their manure and urine supply important nutrients for plants. As their hoofs stir the soil and create small pockets to capture moisture in the earth
    • Because bison are undomesticated, they interact with the land as nature intended
    For our squash, we gathered mini butternut squash (the cutest squash EVER!) from Eatwell Farm & carnival squash (less cute but fun name) which are a close relative to the acorn squash. Carnival squash are like the cousins who like to party. It may be hard to tell, but these butternut squash are just a little bit longer than my hand. Adorable!
     The key to cooking bison can be summed up in two words: LOW & SLOW. So if you are making a meal with bison, relax, don't rush, and enjoy all the elements of this magnificent animal that has been a part of North America long before us. 
    Butternut Squash Stuffed with Bison, Quinoa, Seasonal Veggies 
    (8 servings)

    2 pounds bison
    2 mini butternut squash
    2 carnival squash
    2 cups red quinoa

    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon dried sage
    1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
    Olive oil

    For topping:

    feta cheese
    pumpkin seeds

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Cut the butter nut squash & carnival squash in half. Remove the seeds. Place in a glass dish, cut side up. Brush squash lightly with olive oil. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until squash are easily penetrable with a fork.
    3.  In a pot add the dried red quinoa with water in a ration of 1:2. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer and keep the pot covered until all the liquid is absorbed. About 20 minutes. When down, fluff with a fork and set aside.
    4. Slice the leeks, carrots and celery into even slices
    5. Add bison to a pan, over LOW heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 5-7 minutes.
    ***Because bison is significantly less fat than other meats, it will NOT shrink down in size as much so do not use this to test if the bison is done, because you will likely overcook it! Instead just look for a nice even brown color.
    5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bison from the pan and set aside in a bowl but leave all the natural juices and oils in the pan.
    6. Add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Once the oils are hot, add in the leeks, carrots and celery, and dried herbs and cook for 4-7 minutes
    7. When squash are done, remove from the oven and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/2 inch all the way around to maintain it's shape. Add the squash insides to the vegetable mixture, along with the quinoa and bison. Gently mix to combine.
    8. Stuff the squash with the bison and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle some feta cheese on top and a couple pinches of pumpkin seeds.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
    Leftovers (if you have any!) make yummy lunches or can be added to salads.

    A little music to take you away while you are cooking the bison low and slow...
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