Monday, October 29, 2012

Squash the Holidays.

Halloween is just around the corner and jack o'lanterns are being carved from large, round orange pumpkins. For Thanksgiving, spiced pumpkin pies are being anticipated; and the best pumpkin meat for those come from crookneck pumpkins. Did you know there is a winter squash that is in the same family as zucchini and yellow squash? It's the acorn squash which gets its name, not only, from the acorn shape, but from the nutty flavor of the flesh inside.

Acorn squash (Cucurbita Pepo) is low in calories, fats and carbs, since it contains no simple sugars; it is high in fiber and digests easily. A single servings contains vitamins A, C and B6; also thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, manganese, magnesium and potassium. The squash itself can be cooked by baking, steaming or microwaving; it can be eaten right out of its shell or stuffed, pureed for soup, added to mashed potatoes, or frozen for later use. If you were thinking that butternut squash was the only versatile one, aren't you surprised now?

Like butternut squash, one of the typical ways to make acorn squash is by baking it in the oven and then coating the flesh with a butter and brown sugar mixture. As a reader of this food blog, you know by now that I do not do the typical. Oh, I did bake it in the oven, but then stuffed it where it could be eaten as a meal in itself, or as a side dish. Vegetarians would be happy with this dish, and while I add Romano cheese to it, it would be there choice depending on how strict a regime they follow.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash


2 large or 3 small acorn squash
2 Tbsp plus 4 tsps olive oil
¼ each diced onion and red bell pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic 4 cups wilted and chopped spinach, kale or broccoli rabe leaves, stems removed
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
4 tsps shredded Romano cheese


Preheat oven to 350F; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Rinse squash in water and pat dry; cut in half and scoop out seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon. Place on baking sheet cut side down; bake for 30 minutes.

While squash is baking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat; sauté’ onion and bell pepper for 3 minutes. Add in garlic, let cook for another minute before adding the leaves, salt and Italian seasoning. Mix thoroughly and let cook for 5 minutes before removing from heat; keep warm.

After 30 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven, turn over the squash halves and place together to help hold each other upright.
Drizzle a teaspoon of oil and sprinkle a teaspoon of cheese inside each half.

Stuff with the leaf mixture; return to oven and bake for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4-6 depending on size used.

Mary Cokenour

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