Since we’re in southern California, which is completely devoid of seasons other than hot and warm, I figure the best way to celebrate the fall harvest time is with some deliciously earthy, comforting cuisine. Enter Mr. Acorn Squash.
This is a recipe from my charming cousin Constance who lives somewhere there’s actually seasons. The first time I tried it, she had made it as an entree for the feasting vegetarians at a family holiday dinner. The best part about the recipe is how flexible it is, but I was super impressed with how inexpensive and filling it was for a dinnertime meal for 2. She sent me her bare bones recipe and her blessing for experimentation and this is what it evolved into in my kitchen. Onto the recipe!
Constance’s Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 cup uncooked if you’re making it for the recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, small dice
1 apple, peeled, small dice (i like fuji)
1 rib celery, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp brown sugar
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1 cup grated colby jack cheese
1 egg, beaten
Preheat your oven to 350. If you don’t have pre-cooked rice, start by cooking it and set aside to cool.
Split your acorn squash in half (I prefer lengthwise, some people prefer horizontally). Scoop out the seeds and place facedown in a microwave safe dish with a few tbsps of water, and cover tightly with syran wrap. Microwave 10 – 12 minutes until the flesh is fork tender.
Very carefully, scoop out the flesh of the squash, leaving the skin intact. This is a delicate and very hot process! Mash up the flesh and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil and butter until melted over medium-high heat. Saute together the onion, celery, and apples until they begin to soften and become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes until the raw flavor cooks out. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the rice, the contents of the skillet, the flesh of the acorn squash, all the seasonings, almonds, raisins, breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Give this mixture a taste, and season accordingly. Then add the beaten egg and mix again. Make sure the mixture is not too hot or the cheese and egg will begin to cook too soon. Divide this mixture in half and fill the empty squash skins, then top with the remaining cheese.
30 minutes later… mmmm golden brown and delicious. The squash makes the filling rich and creamy and oh so tasty. ENJOY! And don’t forget to experiment to your tastes, this recipe is as forgiving as it is delicious! THANKS CONSTANCE!