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Stuffed Squash with Blue Cheese and Quinoa

Stuffed Squash with raw-milk blue and quinoa There's been a bit of fuss about cheese in the news lately. The FDA and raw-milk vigilantes have been making headlines due to a couple cases of possible listeria. Next, a recent article in the New York Times accused cheese of making Americans who eat at fast food restaurants fat. Because people eating neon "cheese food" squirted from a cheese pump between a flour tortilla and fried corn taco shell stuffed with ground beef are surprised when their dinner isn't low fat or healthy.

Despite the headlines, I have faith in our cheesemakers and the power of cheese eaten in nutritious quantities. With this in mind, I want to share with you one of my favorite fall dishes with raw-milk American blue cheese. Made with seasonal squash, quinoa and herbs, it's a light, lively starter to a meal or, served with a side salad, a flown-blown, healthy lunch for one. It's also gluten-free and vegetarian. Eat this while laughing at fingers pointing to cheese as the culprit for obesity.

Stuffed sweet dumpling squash

Stuffed Winter Squash with Blue Cheese and Quinoa

Any winter squash will work, but I choose  a sweet dumpling squash because I like to mix it up with this gourd's sweet zucchini flavors when I'm tiring of the standard butternut squash soup making its fall rounds. Use any squash you'd like though- it would go smashingly with any stuffable squash- just alter the recipe to fit the vegetable's size. To add a little seasonal crunch, I used pumpkin seeds, but crushed pecans would work just as well.

Serves 1 to 2

1 sweet dumpling or carnival squash

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 celery rib

1/2 clove garlic, minced

2 sprigs parsley, chopped

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

squeeze of lemon

1 1/2 ounces raw-milk blue like Jasper Hill's Bayley Hazen, Big Woods Blue, or Buttermilk Bleu Affinee

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut squash in half from the center of the stem down and scoop out the seeds. Rub the flesh with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place face down on a sheet tray lined with parchiment paper and cook for 20 minutes or until a fork slips into the flesh easily. Set aside.

Cut the celery rib once lengthwise, then into small diced pieces.

Add one teaspoon of olive oil to a pan that has been warmed to medium-heat. Add the celery and cook until just al dente, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 2 more minutes. Add the quinoa, parsley and lemon juice and cook until warm. Season with salt and better. Set aside to cool, and add pumpkin seeds.

Raise the oven heat to 425 degrees.

When cool, stuff the squash with the quinoa. Crumble and divide the blue cheese over the top of the two squash.

Put the squash in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the squash is warm and the cheese is bubbly and browned.

Drink with Pinot Blanc, a white Alsatian blend, or a Belgian wit beer.