Monday, February 22, 2010

Squash This

Rachel here: We decided to feature squash for this post because it's a vegetable (ok, actually it's technically a fruit) that neither one of us is particularly used to working with. In my cooking, before this meal, I had only used it cubed in stir-fries and soups. Anyway, I was delighted to discover the recipe that I am sharing below. It is completely delicious, absurdly easy and really rather quick, in addition to being a phenomenally cheap meal to prepare. An added bonus was that it gives a nod to Thanksgiving dinner in its flavors, one of my all-time favorite meals. I found the recipe while trolling through epicurious (a wonderful way to spend a morning, in my opinion) and modified it ever so slightly from its original posting in Bon App├ętit in October 1995.

Acorn Squash with Wild Mushroom Cranberry Stuffing
feeds 2

1 1/2-1 3/4 lb. acorn squash, halved and with seeds removed
1/2 c. dried cranberries or currants (I used a mixture)
1/4 c. hot water
3 T. butter
4 oz. fresh wild mushrooms (I used shiitake), de-stemmed and chopped
1/4 c. chopped onion (I chopped on the bigger side)
1 tspn. dried sage
1 c. fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4-1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan arregiano
few ounces of goat cheese (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place squash cut side down on a glass baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap (I just used a pyrex pie plate). Microwave on high for 10 minutes (or a bit longer if your microwave cooks on its own terms like mine does...I only added 2 extra minutes and it was perfect). Pierce plastic to let some steam escape and then remove plastic completely. Season squash with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine your cranberries and/or currants with the hot water and let sit. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in skillet. Add mushrooms, onion and sage and saute until vegetables begin to soften. Add breadcrumbs and stir until they begin to brown (roughly 3 minutes). Now add the cranberries and/or currants along with all of their soaking liquid. Season this with salt and pepper and then add the bulk of your grated parmesan, reserving a little to sprinkle over the top of the squash halves once they are stuffed.

Mound the stuffing into the squash halves, pressing down to get them good and full before creating the mounded tops. Sprinkle remaining parmesan over the top and place in oven for approximately 10 minutes, until heated through and crisp on top. I served the squash halves with a bit of goat cheese and John and I both felt that the tartness of the goat cheese was a nice complement to the dish. When we were eating, we were daydreaming about other things to stuff squash with (walnuts? sausage? the possibilities seem endless!)...what have you tried?

Janet here: The other point Rachel left out in our decision to make a squash dish is that neither of us is that fond of it so it doesn't make it to the menu that often in either of our households. There was a time, though, BK (that would be Before Kids) when I would make stuffed squash from my then-favorite vegetarian cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook, and it was, as Rachel noted, an easy, tasty, cheap dinner. But then whining children came along and it became a harder sell (in fact I don't even think I tried).

I had been thinking about making a stuffed squash too but then found this recipe for a squash flatbread in Real Simple and thought it looked so beautiful, that I made this instead. I'm here to tell you that with the exception of it being a little squash-heavy (I personally think 1/2 a pound or maybe 3/4 of a pound tops would have improved this), it was delicious. The thyme added a lovely subtlety and the cheddar just the right bit of sharpness.

Butternut Squash Flatbread with Cheddar and Pine Nuts
serves 3

1 pound store-bought pizza dough (if you make your own, go for it; this recipe was filed under easy weeknight meals so the assumption was you didn't have time)
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, sliced 1/4 inch thick (see above comment re. amount)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used dried and saw no difference)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Shape the dough into a large oval and place on cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. (I used a pizza stone and that worked fine as well.)

In a large bowl, toss the swuash, onion, pine nuts, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter over the dough and sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes

1 comment:

  1. the flatbread looks amazing! I will try microwaving the squash, good idea! I love to eat squash but it takes soo long to bake. Thanks!!