roasted acorn squash with a wine reduction sauce
It never ceases to shock me that KS and I will disagree on food likes and dislikes. I naturally assume that we’re so well-suited that it’s simply impossible for me to like, nay love tomatoes, and for him to be tolerant of them. As a child, I would eat ripe tomatoes like one would eat apples, biting into them hungrily and devouring them with but a sprinkling of salt. KS looks at tomatoes as good and sometimes delicious even (when we find a good heirloom variety in season), but he would hardly trip over himself running to the market to find the best tomatoes available. Same with deep, dark chocolate desserts. I look at molten chocolate cake and I can’t help myself (kind of like last night at the New York Chapter MS Society Dinner of Champions where I devoured a cake in no time). A spoonful of it in my mouth is one of the closest heaven-on-earth moments I’ve experience. KS, on the other hand, can have a bite and push the plate over to me. How can one be so calm and composed about chocolate I will never, ever know. I suppose there’s always more of it left for me!
And so when we went to the market and I picked up a butternut squash, impatiently imagining all the amazing things I could do with it, KS gave me a bored look and pointed to the acorn squash. I shot the look right back and pointed to the butternut. He – to the acorn. And thus we repeated the process a few times, until I gave in and picked up the acorn squash, making him promise me that our next squash will be a butternut one. Compromise, after all, is one of the magical things that makes cohabitation possible.
After our pact to practice equal opportunity squash treatment, this little, cute acorn squash came home with us and lived on our counter for a few days while I devised a plan for its demise. I didn’t want to just roast it. And we’ve already steamed our fair share of acorn squash (we put our steamer to some good use). I would look at the squash, tilting my head from side to side, thinking, “What am I going to do with you?” And this idea came to mind, plus we had some leftover couscous that I didn’t want to go to waste. All in all, I love the idea of stuffed squash – it’s easy, delicious and it looks gorgeous on a plate. And while acorn squash is tasty and almost meaty-tasting when you roast it, I cannot wait to make the butternut this week. Maybe I’ll get KS to switch sides of this squash disparity and join the butternuts. I am always so hopeful.
1 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds) seeds removed
1 cup of cooked couscous or quinoa (to make gluten-free)
6 prunes, minced
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
A few spoons of chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup red wine
1-2 tsp sugar
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut the top off the squash and empty it out, putting the seeds aside. Cut a little off at the bottom so that the squash can stand on its own. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, combine couscous, prunes, walnuts, shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a dash of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and cayenne. But your spices are up to you here!
4. Stuff your empty squash with the couscous mixture until it’s got a small mound at the top. Pour few tablespoons of chicken or vegetable broth on top of the couscous to keep it moist.
5. Add the sugar to the wine and mix to blend. Place the squash into a baking sheet and pour a cup of red wine into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a knife.
6. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise and serve with the wine reduction.
But wait, wait!! I forgot about the best part!! So you clean out your squash, right? What do you do with the seeds? Why you roast them, of course! Slightly smaller than pumpkin seeds, acorn squash seeds are delicious roasted. So while we waited for our squash to finish its business in the oven and KS cast one too many a hungry looks in the direction of the kitchen, we snacked on these delicious seeds. Once you wash the seeds and clean it of the squash fibers, lay them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle a little salt, cumin and cayenne. Mix so the spices are blended over and roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes – taste to make sure they’re done and not burned – the color should change a bit to golden brown and the edges of the seeds will develop a slightly darker brown hue. Nothing from the squash goes to waste – and above all, you get a tasty snack while waiting for dinner!