My husband loves to eat vegetarian meals regularly so I am always on the lookout for recipes I can “make” vegetarian easily. Recipes that are mostly vegetables, where I can leave out or alter the protein, or where I can add more veggies easily. And I always like to have a vegetarian option for Thanksgiving. We often have guests that don’t eat turkey. Can you believe it is less than 2 months away? Where has the year gone?
When you think of squash I’ll bet you have trouble getting much further down the list than pumpkins, spaghetti, and butternut squashes. A less well-known one is on today’s menu. It is the acorn squash, one of the smaller ones, not surprisingly shaped like a large acorn! Look for dark green ones that are heavy for their size. They have an extremely hard rind that is difficult to cut through which turns many people off. But I’ve got a tip for you to make it much easier to handle! Microwave it first! (See under Kitchen Skill below for details.)
Like pumpkins, all winter squashes have a tough rind and delicately flavored flesh. They are hollow and filled with seeds and strings that have to be removed before cooking. This is much easier to do with a little acorn squash than your typical Jack O’Lantern! Save the seeds because they are tasty when you season and bake them, just like pumpkin seeds. It’s like a reward for the hard work of cleaning out the pumpkin for Halloween!
The vegetable filling can be as simple as a basic mirepoix or you can add any vegetables you like. I like to add cauliflower, zucchini, garlic, corn, peas, bell peppers, etc. Whatever I have in the fridge that needs to be used. Think about texture and color when considering what to add. The melted cheese on top is optional but oh so yummy!
Another way to prepare acorn or butternut squash is to split is as directed and then fill it with a combination of butter, brown sugar, and chopped nuts. Children will love you forever if you make it this way for them, LOL!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
To keep the squash from rolling back and forth on the plate, slice a small section off the rind so it has a flat surface on the “bottom” when you fill and serve it! Do this with anything that doesn’t have a level bottom.
Kitchen Skill: How to prep a squash
To slightly soften the squash so it is easier to handle, make some holes in the side with a sharp knife (you can consider it a perforated line to cut along later) so that the steam can escape. Place in the microwave and heat on high for 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and let stand a few minutes. You can now halve it easily with a very sharp knife! You can use this tip with butternut squash and pumpkins too!
Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash
Modified recipe from Sunset magazine
Yield: 4 servings
2 tbsp butter
2 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
2 tbsp butter
1 med onion, chopped
4 med carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
Additional chopped vegetables as desired
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To prepare squash: Pierce the rind a few times and microwave for 3 minutes. Using a very sharp large knife, split the squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub butter all over each squash half; lay cut side down in a 10×15-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 350°F. oven for 25 minutes. Turn cut side up; bake until tender when pierced, about 15 minutes more.
To make filling: Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, any additional vegetables you want to add*, and ginger. Stir until onion is limp. Add wine and soy sauce; boil until all liquid has evaporated; set aside.
Remove squash from oven, spoon filling equally into each half, and sprinkle top with Jack cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot.
* If you are adding a lot of additional vegetables, you will need to increase the wine and soy sauce incrementally. You can serve any leftover filling alongside the squash.
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