Sunday, September 29, 2013

Baked Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic & Herb Filling

Acorn squash with roasted garlic & herb filling
This savory acorn squash recipe evokes the harvest and Thanksgiving with herbs like sage and thyme, which often are associated with stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer to call it that).

You can roast the garlic and onions and add the dry seasonings to the filling the day before, then cover and refrigerate until you're ready to make dinner the next day. Plan on one squash half per person as a side dish, and you can multiply the recipe to serve more people. You can also adjust the filling's ingredient amounts to better suit your tastes.

This recipe is vegetarian AND vegan. But I won't complain if you want to add some crumbled bacon to the filling. If you want to add meatless crunch, simply top with some chopped walnuts or pecans, preferably toasted for richer flavor.

1 acorn squash
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
1 1/2 Tbs raw minced garlic*
Olive Oil (you'll use 3 to 4 Tbs)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt (or regular table salt)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

*Although already-minced garlic is commercially available in jars, I recommend chopping up raw garlic cloves for roasting. If you end up with extra minced garlic, simply refrigerate in a small plastic baggie or lidded container, or freeze in a baggie with all the air squeezed out.

Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly oil a baking pan or sheet. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a small shallow baking dish or pan, tilting the dish so that the oil spreads out to evenly cover the bottom. Spread the onion and garlic in a single layer in the dish, drizzle with another Tablespoon of olive oil, stir to coat all then spread out again in a single layer. Place dish in oven and roast until the onions and garlic are a deep golden brown, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes or so (this can take 60 to 75 minutes). While that's roasting, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise (from stem to tip), scoop out the seeds, and place cut-side down on a separate, lightly oiled baking sheet or pan. Place in oven and roast alongside the other dish until the flesh is becoming tender, being careful not to overcook -- normally I bake the squash at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes, so it takes only 20 minutes or so at the higher temperature. You don't want to fully cook the squash because you'll finish baking it with the filling. When it is partly tender (you can stick a fork into the flesh on the cut side and it penetrates about halfway towards the shell), remove squash halves from oven and set aside.

baked acorn squash
Filled & ready to bake
After the onion & garlic has roasted to a deep golden brown, remove from oven and stir in the sage, thyme, salt & pepper, adding a little olive oil if it appears too dry. At this point you can either save this mixture (cover and refrigerate) until you are ready to stuff the squash halves, OR you can continue with the recipe.

Before filling the squash halves, stir the chopped parsley into the seasoned onion & garlic mixture and add a little more olive oil to make it moist but not swimming in the oil. Preheat oven to 375°F. spoon the filling into each squash half dividing it equally between them. Place the filled halves (cut side up, of course) on a lightly oiled baking sheet or pan and bake at 375°F until the squash is fully cooked and fork-tender all the way through, about 20 minutes. If desired, you can sprinkle additional fresh-chopped parsley over the squash halves when serving.

Zestfully yours,

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