Stuffed Acorn SquashPosted: 4 November 2011
The first time I made this is was for my dear friend Kiz whom I love despite her aversion to onions. I wanted something that didn’t have a ton of fussy ingredients and that could be more or less hands-off after a bit of chopping. And since I couldn’t use my beloved red onions, I looked to leeks. Leeks are so versatile in cooking. I also heard the other day that the word ‘leek’ is one of the few words used to describe food that hasn’t been changed in English. There were a few others, meat, milk, bread and apple. Other words, like ‘beef’ and ‘pork’ were adapted from French words since they sound nicer than eating ‘cow’ or ‘pig.’ That was your daily dose of NPR nerdiness. I do what I can for you.
Since then I’ve made it twice more because it is insanely delicious. In a few hours I’ll be eating a left over one for lunch too and I kind of can’t wait. It’s a pretty filling meal but if you use a small squash it’s the perfect lunch.
I love meals and recipes that are easily adaptable. I don’t love when you have to measure exactly every single ingredient precisely. And I love making things often enough that I know about how much ‘should’ go in the mix. This is definitely one of those meals that you can change to suit your tastes. It doesn’t involve a lot of effort, although you do need about an hour for the squash to roast and get soft. This can definitely be done ahead of time and if you’re like me, you’ll roast three squash at once so you have enough for several meals. Roasted squash could even be frozen for use later, if you have the freezer space.
Personally I have always been crazy about squash. Senor didn’t try squash until he moved in with me. He had the potential to be a very picky eater back then, as the list of things he’d never tried at the age of 21 was vast. Luckily, he will try anything and generally finds most food to be delicious. This makes things much, much easier. There are a few things he doesn’t like, although I dislike most of them too. We both dislike olives, for example. The first time I made him squash I used butter and brown sugar and he didn’t love it. The sweet on sweet was too much for him. I realized that instead of being a sweet side dish, squash can easily be part of a savory main dish. Although I would never turn my nose up at anything that involves butter and brown sugar, I think I like the savory combo better as well.
When you’re really open about trying new foods you can eat well for very little money. Each season we find ourselves branching out and trying new produce from the market. Last year we started in on Brussels sprouts and to our surprise, we both love them. They quickly became a fall staple. Senor discovered a few years ago that asparagus is one of his absolute favorite veggies so all spring long we devour the little stalks. I discovered a love for roasted kale and broccoli, both of which are cheap and in season both spring and fall. Senor discovered that morels are a mushroom unlike any other this spring. They look horrid but the taste and texture is amazing. Morels don’t fit into the ‘cheap’ category but in general when you buy produce in season, you save a ton of money.
Right now I’m all about roasted squash, root veggies, broccoli, sprouts, and tons of cabbage. It’s also time for apples and pears and pumpkins and I’m enjoying every minute of it. This is great because berries at the store are insanely expensive and apples and pears are offered in giant bags at the market. Whew.
Squash, of course, are in peak season right now. This means that you can buy beautiful acorn squash for $1 a piece at the market and even at organic food stores. Leeks are also in season and will available during the winter. Both squash and leeks keep quiet well so you can find them during the year. The beans in the recipe were dry ones that I cooked but you can buy a can if you’d like. The rest of the recipe is goat cheese and bacon. You can use Gorgonzola and prosciutto or ham and mozzarella. Do what you want. I have yet to make this recipe with the exact same meat/cheese combo and each time it has been super tasty.
Enough rambling. Make this tonight. And if your farmer’s markets are still going (ours goes all year but produce is quickly tapering off) run there asap and buy as many squash as you can. If you store them in cool, dry, dark place they’ll last for quite a while.
1 acorn squash
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup white/navy beans
1 large leek, chopped
3 strips bacon
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash face down in a baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of water over the tops and roast at 400º until soft. This will take about an hour. The skin of the squash will turn dark and shiny when it’s done.
While the squash is roasting, pan fry the bacon in a metal saute pan. While it’s frying, clean and chop the leek into thin slices.
Remove the bacon from the pan when the edges have started to crisp. Turn the heat to low and place the chopped leeks in the pan. Toss to coat with the bacon fat. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
Rinse the beans and place them into the pan with the leeks, tossing gently. Once the leeks look lightly transparent and soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the bacon and cheese, reserving a small amount of the cheese for topping.
When the squash are finished roasting, remove them from the oven. Turn them over using a pancake flipper. Tongs will break them.
Turn on the broiler. Spoon the filling into each half of the squash, slightly mounding the filling in the center. Top the filling with the remaining cheese.
Place the squash under the broiler for five minutes. The leeks and cheese will start to brown on the edges.
Remove from the broiler and let stand five minutes before serving.