Friday, November 12, 2010

Acorn Squash with Chestnut Stuffing

I had stuffed pumpkin for the first time last year, when I found myself celebrating a vegetarian thanksgiving in London with a group of people, only one of which was really American. It was lots of fun and the stuffed pumpkin was delicious. I've been meaning to try and create something similar at home for a while, but only got to it yesterday, in an attempt to use an acorn squash that had been sitting on my kitchen counter for a while.

This recipe may be a little less accurate in terms of quantities than my usual attempts, because I was literally making it up as I went along and saw what I had in the kitchen. This means, however, that you can play with it yourself and change the ingredients at will. For example, it may be a good idea to add some lentil or beans to add some protein to the mix.Other vegetables that would go well are mushrooms and celery.

Acorn Squash with Chestnut Stuffing

Ingredients (for 1 squash, make 1 small squash per person as a main course): 

* 1 small acorn squash (or sugar pumpkin or other relatively small member of the family). Ideally look for one that can stand pretty well without support).
* About 2 handfuls of plain stuffing (I used Aleia's GF stuffing) or 2-3 slices of old bread of your choice, diced. 
* 1/2 cup of  vegetable stock (but have a little more on hand in case you need it)
* 1-2 tablespoons of butter, melted 
* 1 small onion, finely diced 
* 1 carrot, finely diced
* 6-7 peeled chestnuts (I buy them in a jar or vacuum sealed), finely chopped 
* 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional, but adds an interesting flavor)
* parsley or mint (or both), finely chopped
* salt, pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.  Cut the top off of the squash (about 1 inch, 2.5 cms from the top), and save the top for a nicer presentation. Scoop out the seeds and fibers, but make sure to leave plenty of the squash's flesh. 

2. In a bowl, combine the stuffing or bread, chestnuts, onion and carrots. Pour in the butter and vegetable stock and mix well. You want to make sure that the stuffing absorbs a fair amount of the vegetable stock and is softened by it, but that you don't have a liquid mess, so add some stock, mix, then add a  bit more. You may need more than the original half cup. 

3. Add the chopped herbs and season with the cinnamon and salt and pepper. 

4. Place the squash (or multiple squashes if you are feeding more than yourself) on a baking tin covered in foil (or in a glass/ceramic baking dish). Stuff the squash with the stuffing until it is quite full, then top with the original top (if your squash doesn't stand well enough to keep the top, don't worry about it, it's just as delicious without it). *f you have leftover stuffing, you can place it in in a heat proof dish and bake it in the oven as well, and serve as a side dish or just an additional portion.  Bake the squash for about 30-40 minutes, or until the squash flesh is relatively tender when pushed with a fork. Baking time may very quite a lot in this case, so test your squash. 

5. When the squash flesh is tender, serve it, one squash per person. While presentation-wise it's prettiest to give each person their own squash, it is actually easier to eat this by then scooping the stuffing out of the squash onto a plate, and scooping out the delicious squash flesh as well, mixing it with the stuffing. 

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it!

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