Growing up, acorn squash was normally relegated to late fall/early winter during the autumnal holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving; when my mother invites family and friends for a Moroccan Feast - une fete marocaine - the aperitifs of oil cured black olives and fried ful (fava beans) greet the guests...at the dinner table the first course of harira, a traditional tomato-based soup of chickpeas, onions, cilantro, and saffron is served with warm bread or egg-less challah...the soup is always followed by a spread of the classic salads: carrot, beet, aubergine, and swiss chard and then of course the piece de resistance: an enormous platter of twice-steamed couscous tossed with crispy sweet onions is adorned by sliced, cinnamon-roasted acorn squash and sweet potatoes and served alongside crispy cayenne baked chickpeas and shallots. Eventually, everyone retreats to the living room for nana tea (fresh mint and gunpowder tea sweetened with sugar) served in my great grandmothers' original tea glasses from Meknes (the kind that ABC carpet knocks off and charges an arm and a leg for).
With all that being said, this post is not a throwback to the food of my childhood that is so heavily influenced and fueled by my families' Moroccan origin...
Enter Roasted & Stuffed Acorn Squash
Although this acorn squash recipe has almost nothing to do with a moroccan feast, it is quite festive and a lovely winter dish. Depending on the size of the squash one could be enough for a cozy dinner for two. Served alongside a bitter greens salad just hits the spot.
What you'll need:
1 medium acorn squash - halved and seeded
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice [1 cup brown rice boiled toasted with olive oil and a few saffron threads and then boiled with 2 cups of [homemade] vegetable broth for 35-40minutes]
12-14 cremini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 trimmed leek, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from stem
a few tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper\
nutritional yeast, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil on the acorn squash and season with salt and pepper.
Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes until crispy and the flesh softened.
In a large pan, heat olive oil and add onions. Once the onions become fragrant add the thyme, leeks and mushrooms. Allow for the mushrooms to break down a bit and release some liquid, about 5 minutes and then add garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to stir until all the ingredients have become incorporated and cooked down, about 8-10 minutes. Add prepared brown rice and stir to mix. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Remove squash from the oven and turn on the broiler. Carefully scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of flesh from each half and stir into the mushroom rice mixture. Again, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
Divide the rice mixture among the squash halves and don't be afraid to pile it in (the stuffing with keep its mound shape) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
Broil until crispy and mmmm! enjoy!