Acorn Squash: Go Stuff It!

ALL those squashes and pumpkins we are seeing right now are not just for decoration!  Acorn squash is such a simple, tasty vegetable, or technically, cucurbit, to cook just roasted with a little olive oil, butter, salt & pepper.  But, this recipe takes it to a whole new level!   Scroll down, complete recipe at end!

Farmers market acorn squash and zucchini
 Acorn Squash and Zucchini

Acorn Squash and Zucchini

FIRST off, roast a halved acorn squash and drizzle with a little olive oil until it develops some color and is fork soft, about 20-30 minutes in a 350° oven.  I cut it in half widthwise to get that pretty scalloped shape.  You can cut the stem end off to create a flat base.

 I got a little carried away with the roasting - but as Gordon says, color is flavor, right?

I got a little carried away with the roasting - but as Gordon says, color is flavor, right?

WHILE the squash is roasting, get to work on the stuffing!  Slice zucchini into 1/2" rounds, and chop the garlic, onion, fresh herbs, tomatoes & chilis if you are using.  Lightly brown the onion & garlic & optional chilis with some olive oil and a dollop of butter, then add the zucchini and get that just very lightly browned.  

The fresh herbs I used were from my garden.  I love the tarragon with the lovage & parsely.  If you don't have lovage, you can use celery leaves instead.

 Dollop of butter for flavor as often as possible!

Dollop of butter for flavor as often as possible!

NOW add in chopped tomatoes, the chopped fresh herbs and a splash of maple syrup and simmer for a few minutes, to meld the flavors and reduce the liquid so it's not too liquid.  The maple syrup is just to give it a hint of sweetness and maple goodness that complements the acorn squash, so don't go overboard. 

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AND get stuffing!  Put the acorn squash halves in a pretty baking dish and fill them up with the zucchini mixture.  If you have a little too much, just put it in the bottom of the dish - don't worry, it will get eaten.

Finally, top the stuffed acorns with a generous amount of chopped pecans (to add some really nice texture plus that lovely flavor) and add pieces of cheese, then put back in the oven for about 15 minutes to allow the stuffing juices to mix with the acorn squash and the cheese and pecans to lightly toast.

 Ready for a final visit to the oven to melt the cheese and toast the pecans.  

Ready for a final visit to the oven to melt the cheese and toast the pecans.  

Ingredients

1 - acorn squash, about 2lbs, cut in half widthwise

4 - medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2" rounds

2- medium tomatoes, chopped

1 - onion, chopped

2 - garlic cloves, diced

2 - hot chili peppers, small, optional

3 tablespoons of butter

Olive oil for cooking

Salt & pepper

About 1/2 cup total of equal parts chopped Italian parsley, lovage and tarragon

About 1/8th cup of maple syrup, or just a quick glug into the pan to taste

About 1 cup of pecans, coarsely chopped

About 1 cup of chopped or chunked cheese - I used Syrian cheese, which is a fresh cheese that is delicately flavored, and melted nicely without too much stringiness. I do think the simplicity &creaminess of the flavor worked well with the warm, luscious-tasting veggies, but you could substitute something similar

-Preheat your oven to 350°

-Cut the acorn squash in half width-wise.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in a the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until it is fork soft and some caramelization is happening

-Chop the zucchini, onion, garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs

-In a frying pan, heat the olive oil & sauté the onion & garlic until lightly browned, then add the zucchini and lightly brown that - keep some texture to the zucchini as we don't want a slimy mess!  Add a knob of butter to melt into the mixture.

-Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan along with the maple syrup and fresh herbs and simmer a few more minutes to blend the flavors.

-Place the acorn squash halves in a baking dish and fill them up with the zucchini mixture.  Generously top the stuffing in each squash half with chopped pecans and dot with the cheese.

-Return to the 350° oven for about 20 minutes to brown the pecans and melt the cheese.  Cover with a bit of foil if the nuts and cheese start to get too brown as you also want to allow the flavors of the squash and stuffing to start to blend together.

ENJOY!

Zucchini Stuffed Acorn Squash
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