Stuffed Acorn Squash
Two years ago, my family abandoned the tradition of eating turkey for Thanksgiving. We were having a rare family-reunion type holiday, spending it with a bunch of relatives we’d never spent holidays with and who live far away. We decided to do something different and cooked up a whole sea bass as the main event of our meal. We’re not a family of big meat-eaters. I grew up eating tofu stir-fry slightly more often than spaghetti and meatballs.
Since that Thanksgiving, we haven’t gone back to eating turkey. Last year was fish again, and this year was a rich seafood chowder with a pureed butternut squash base. We also had about a pound of venison, sourced by a neighbor who hunts on my parents’ property, that we cooked up as well. I made this stuffed squash as something of a rival to the animal protein options, although truth be told I had little bit of everything.
Preheat the oven to 375. Simply wash the acorn squash, slice off the stem and opposite end, and slice in half (either with or against the ridges is fine). Scoop out the seeds and coat the flesh with olive oil. Place the halves on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. I made three whole squash for seven people and we had plenty of leftovers.
Choose your favorite grain (I actually used a blend of quinoa, wild rice, and amaranth). Pour about three tablespoons of olive oil into a saucepan and sautee a few leeks on low heat for about ten minutes. Add a few heads of garlic along with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and sage. After about a minute or two, add 1 1/2- 2 cups of your grain and the appropriate amount of stock. Usually it’s a 2:1 ratio when cooking grains, liquid to grain. Stir completely and allow to simmer uncovered on low to medium heat for about twenty minutes, stirring every so often. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Place a few spoonfuls of stuffing into the squash halves, sprinkle with sesame seeds and return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes until the squash is easy to poke into with a knife. Enjoy them while they’re hot! I like to top mine with a little butter.