Last year around this time we were contracted to contribute a vegetarian dish for an Interfaith meal hosted by the church where I am employed. We knew we wanted to make something eye-catching utilitizing a Fall vegetable. Say hello to my friend, Mr. Acorn Squash.
I literally went to the store and searched for something colorful to stuff it with and I found this tri-colored pearl couscous. (Thank you, Lucky’s Market!)
Next, I knew I needed more than just couscous to make it an actual vegetarian dish. Well, to be honest, the squash and the couscous would have been fine, but it wasn’t enough for me. I decided to sauté some yummy vegetables to add into the squash, so I stocked up on onions, carrots, a few butternut squash, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, etc. I literally just thought about things that I love and went from there.
Next, I needed my big, strong hubba hubba hubby, Charlie, to open each squash and scoop out the innards! Don’t worry, I will reduce this recipe so you aren’t feeding 150 people with it! <<grin>> He also sliced off a bit of the bottom so they would sit on a plate without wobbling.
After the squash have been halved and scooped out, they go in a pan with a little water, (cut side down) to bake until almost soft. (To make these for the family, you can absolutely do this step in the microwave to save time.)
Then it’s a matter of sautéing the vegetables, (I used squash, onion, carrots, cranberries, toasted almonds) preparing the couscous according to package directions and combining all…then stuffing the squash. Here is my bowl combining my sautéed ingredients with my toasted almonds.
Here is the couscous combined with the sautéed vegetables and toasted almonds stuffed inside the acorn squash.
Here, I have spooned in the stuffing.
And finally, it goes back into the oven, sprinkled with fresh seasonings and then it comes out looking like a work of art! (So colorful!) If you are looking for something new to take to your Thanksgiving pot luck dinner, try this. It looks like you’ve spent hours, yet it’s super easy. You could even prepare all of this a day or two in advance, then bake just before you leave for your event OR before you have your event. These will do well stored warm in a baking dish covered with foil.
Pretty, aren’t they?
4 acorn squash, washed, cut in half, seeds scooped out.
1 Package tri-colored pearl couscous (or whatever your favorite happens to be) prepared according to pkg directions.
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 fresh sage leaves chopped
2 carrots peeled & sliced.
1 large onion diced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, and cubed (save time and buy this already diced from the market)
1/2 c Toasted almonds
1/2 c Dried cranberries (chopped dried apricots would be great in there too or even yellow raisins)
Salt & pepper
1/2 freshly chopped Italian parsley
1/2 c freshly grated cheese of your choice. (I used Asiago/Regiano)
Preheat oven to 400
- Prepare tri-colored couscous according to package directions, set aside.
- Dice all of the vegetables (except the butternut squash) and sauté (until tender) in half the olive oil and half the butter. Season with salt and pepper and the sage. Just prior to finishing, toss in the cranberries to soften them.
- When the vegetables are tender, remove to a bowl, clean out your skillet and dry roast the almonds over medium high heat for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add to the vegetables.
- Put the butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, pour out onto sheet tray, bake 20-25 minutes.
Prepare the squash:
- Wash the acorn squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds.
- Brush the cut sides and the cavity with olive oil. Sprinkle them with salt & pepper& garlic
- Place cut side down in a large roasting pan
- Roast in the oven for one hour until tender and still holding their shape.
Prepare the stuffing:
- In a bowl, combine the couscous with the roasted butternut squash and the sautéed vegetables and cranberries.
- Stir in the parsley
- Spoon into the cooked acorn squashes.
- Sprinkle the tops with freshly grated cheese of your choice. I like Asiago, but you can use what you like.
- Place back in oven uncovered for about 5-8 minutes until just heated through.
- Garnish with more parsley.