Meatless Monday – Acorn Squash Rings with Cornbread Stuffing

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I’ve already started planning our feast.  This will be my first Thanksgiving not roasting a turkey so it will take some extra inspiration on my part.  My favorite part of the meal has always been the side dishes anyway, so I’m sure I won’t even miss the turkey – and I’ll save myself from the dreaded post dinner Turkey Coma.  I guess I’ll have to come up with another excuse reason to take an afternoon nap.  So the big question now is,  ‘Where do I put my stuffing’?  It seems anticlimactic  to just bake it in a covered dish. I mean it’s not really stuffing if you haven’t stuffed anything!  So I decided acorn squash would make a worthy vessel for this once a year treat.  I was going to stuff acorn squash halves but decided to cut the squash into rings first and make individual servings.  A half squash can be an awfully large portion for one person, although halves certainly work well as a main course. The rings also make  a very attractive, almost floral, presentation with their fluted edges and golden yellow color.

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Acorn Squash is a good food choice, especially this time of year when it is at the peak of the season and the most flavorful.  It turns out that, once again, nature is providing us what we need just as cold season begins.   Winter Squash is one of the richest sources of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene, which are important for a strong immune system to help protect against colds and flu.  Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, acorn squash is nutrient dense, rich in vitamins, including A, C and B6, and harder to find potassium and iron.  It is also a good source of fiber and has zero fat and cholesterol. The seeds can be rinsed and roasted on a cookie sheet in a single layer at 160-170°F (about 75°C) in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them at a low temperature you minimize damage to their healthy oils which contain Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil).

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I chose to make a traditional savory, sweet stuffing that combines savories like onions, celery,  fresh sage and thyme with sweet apples, dates, pecans and cranberries. I brushed the squash with a maple butter glaze before cooking to enhance it’s natural sweetness. Then I piled each slice high with a mound of yummy buttery stuffing and baked until the squash was soft and the stuffing golden brown. If you like very moist stuffing, you can cover with aluminum foil for the first 20 minutes and remove foil for the last 10 or 15 minutes to brown the top.

TIP: This recipe can easily be halved using one acorn squash.  Just divide the ingredients accordingly. I think it’s plenty sweet with the dates, cranberries and maple but for additional sweetness substitute half or more of the broth with apple juice.

 Acorn Squash rings

ACORN SQUASH RINGS WITH CORNBREAD STUFFING

1 cup plus 2 Tbsn butter (divided)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
2 whole acorn squash
2 Tbsn maple syrup
4 c dried cornbread (or stuffing mix)
1/2 c pecans or walnut, chopped
1/2 c dates, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries, currants or yellow raisins
1 Tbsn fresh sage, minced or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsn fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
4 c vegetable broth (or half broth half apple juice)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

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  • Saute onion and celery in 1 cup butter for 5 to 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add apple and cook another 5 minutes. Set aside..

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  • Slice acorn squash into 1/2 inch rings and remove seeds and stringy bits.

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  • Place squash rings on lightly oiled baking sheets. (Each squash will probably fill a pan.) In a small bowl combine 2 Tablespoons melted butter and maple syrup and brush tops and insides of rings with mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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  • In a large bowl, combine cornbread, onion mixture, dates, cranberries pecans, sage and broth. Taste and add salt and pepper or more herbs  if necessary before mixing in raw egg.

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  • Fill each squash ring with a heaping spoonful of cornbread mixture. Mixture should be damp but not wet.  You should be able to form it into balls with your hands and place each ball inside the squash and press into shape.

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  • Bake 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees, or until tops are golden brown and squash is tender. For a softer stuffing, cover with aluminum foil for the first 20 minutes or so.

Acorn Squash Rings with Cornbread Stuffing

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Acorn Slices1

1 cup plus 2 Tbsn butter (divided)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
2 whole acorn squash
2 Tbsn maple syrup
4 c dried crumbled cornbread (or stuffing mix)
1/2 c pecans or walnut, chopped
1/2 c dates, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries, currants or yellow raisins
1 Tbsn fresh sage, minced or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsn fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
4 c vegetable broth (or half broth half apple juice)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • Saute onion and celery in 1 cup butter for 5 to 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add apple and cook another 5 minutes. Set aside..
  • Slice acorn squash into 1/2 inch rings and remove seeds and stringy bits.
  • Place squash rings on lightly oiled baking sheets. In a small bowl combine 2 Tablespoon melted butter and maple syrup and brush tops and insides of rings with mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine cornbread, onion mixture, dates, cranberries pecans, sage and broth. Taste and add salt and pepper or more herbs  if necessary before mixing in raw egg.
  • Fill each squash ring with a heaping spoonful of cornbread mixture. Mixture should be damp but not wet.  You should be able to form it into balls with your hands and place each ball inside the squash and press into shape.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees, or until tops are golden brown and squash is tender. For a softer stuffing, cover with aluminum foil for the first 20 minutes or so.

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Maple Glazed Acorn Squash, Apples and Pecans over Rainbow Quinoa

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Roasted Acorn Squash1

The time when you find the perfect balance between savory with a touch of sweet… By George, this is it!  Now if I could just find the same balance in my life all would be good, although we are trending in the right direction.  Next week my youngest turns 20, signaling the end of thirteen years of the ‘terrible teens’ which were both better and worse than I expected. Teenagers are actually pretty wonderful, young people (most of the time), they just happen to come with loads of friends (and friends of friends) with enormous appetites, and they use a lot of towels.   Alas, time marches on and we are finding our new balance, a lot of sweet and a bit of savory. Life is good…

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I loved this acorn squash way more than I was expecting and I didn’t even have the urge to add cheese.  This is a vegan dish that you will love and it will love you back by providing loads of healthy plant based  protein, vitamins and minerals! I got the inspiration from a recipe by Edible Perspective and added more savories like ‘sweet’ onion, fresh sage, elephant garlic and whole pecans. Somehow all the flavors come together.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I have always loved the shape of acorn squash.  When cut into circles they remind me of cartoon flowers.  This dish can also be made super casual with everything chopped and cooked jumbled together in a baking dish (I often do this).  The flavors are still wonderful, but it’s less of a presentation.  I really love the visual of the circles and wedges. It’s kind of like a cross between serving halved squash and a vegetable medley.  The slices are certainly less of a commitment to eat than an entire half and since they are uniform in size, they take less time for that perfect cook.  You can also chop the apples, onions, garlic, sage and pecans and stuff the slices for an impressive presentation, although you may need to add an egg to keep the filling together .  I’m sure I will give that a whirl sometime soon, perhaps for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!

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Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (rainbow or plain)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 medium acorn squash
2 large cloves elephant garlic (optional)
2 large sweet onions
small bunch fresh sage
2 apples
3 Tbsn olive or coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt + pepper

Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
salt + pepper to taste

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  • Preheat your oven to 425* F.  Rinse and cook quinoa, if making, in vegetable broth according to instructions. Cover and set aside.

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  • Cut acorn squash in half crosswise and scoop out seeds.

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  • Slice into 1/2 inch rings

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  • Cut elephant garlic into slices.

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  • Cut the dried roots off the onions leaving the  core intact (you want the slices to stay together).  Slice into thin wedges.

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  • Combine the oil, maple syrup and cayenne (if using) in a small bowl. Place squash, garlic and onions in a large lightly oiled baking dish and sprinkle/brush with oil misture to cover. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Place as many squash as possible in a single layer on the bottom of the pan for proper browning, even if you have to use two pans.
  • Roughly chop sage. Core and thinly slice apples.  Spritz with lemon juice if not using right away to prevent browning.

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  • Remove pan from oven. Turn vegetables. Add the apples, pecans and sage.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  You can broil the last five minutes but watch the pecans because they can burn.

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  • Serve over quinoa and sprinkle with vinaigrette.

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Roasted Acorn Squash, Apples and Pecans over Rainbow Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Roasted Acorn Squash1

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (rainbow or plain)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 medium acorn squash
2-3 large cloves elephant garlic (optional)
2 large sweet onions
small bunch fresh sage
2 apples
3 Tbsn olive or coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt + pepper

Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
salt + pepper to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 425* F.  Rinse and cook quinoa, if making, in vegetable broth according to instructions. Cover and set aside.
  • Cut acorn squash in half crosswise and scoop out seeds.
  • Slice into 1/2 inch rings
  • Slice elephant garlic into slices.
  • Cut the dried roots off the onions leaving the  core intact (you want the slices to stay together).  Slice into thin wedges.
  • Combine the oil, maple syrup and cayenne (if using) in a small bowl
  • Place squash, garlic and onions in a large baking dish and sprinkle/brush with oil misture to cover.  Place as many squash as possible in a single layer on the bottom of the pan for proper browning, even if you have to use two pans. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Roughly chop sage. Core and thinly slice apples.  Spritz with lemon juice if not using right away to prevent browning.
  • Remove pan from oven. Turn vegetables. Add the apples, pecans and sage.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  You can broil the last five minutes but watch the pecans as they can burn.
  • Serve over quinoa and sprinkle with vinaigrette

Meatless Monday – Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

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Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing & Pear and Cambozola Salad

When I was a kid, my Mom used to roast acorn squash with butter and brown sugar.  My favorite part was the little pool of melted brown sugar and butter that would form in the hollow. Yum!  This is a more grown up version, suitable as a vegan main course.  It kind of reminds me of a Thanksgiving stuffing but without the turkey.  This dish is very impressive looking and is great for dinner parties or as a holiday centerpiece.  It has that perfect salty, sweet combination and the toasted pecans give it a satisfying ‘meatiness’.  I love the natural heart shape.  It would be a great Valentine’s Day dish!  Vegans should omit the Campozola or replace it with sliced avocado or vegan cheese.  Serves 4-6 (Makes enough stuffing to fill 2 large or 3 small squash)

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Ingredients:

½  cup dried brown rice
¼ cup dried wild rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh brown mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 acorn squash
1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup or brown sugar
1 -2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
¼ cup dried currants (or unsweetened dried cranberries)
¼  tsp salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup pecans

  • Cook the brown and wild rice together with vegetable broth.
  • Heat the oven to 400° and place a rack in the middle position.
  • Cut squash in half with a sharp knife and remove the seeds. Use a dry paper towel to get the rest of the stringy bits.
  • Place the squash, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and brush olive oil on the tops and insides of the squash halves. Brush maple syrup (or sprinkle with brown sugar) on the tops and insides as well, and season with salt and fresh pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until you can pierce it with a fork but not yet soft.

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  • Toast the pecans in a dry pan for a few minutes, until they become aromatic and start turning brown.(You can also toss them first in melted butter or coconut spread for an even more delicious taste).  Let cool.
  • Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot until soft.  Add fresh mushrooms, if using, and cook another couple of minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cooked rice, pecans, and currants. Add salt and fresh pepper to taste.
  • Scoop one quarter of the rice filling into each of the roasted squash halves. It’s a bit messy, so I found it easier to move the squash to a plate for filling and then put it back into the pan.

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  • Continue roasting the squash for 20 to 30 minutes more. It should be completely tender and the stuffing hot. You should hear it sizzling.
  • Serve warm.

Pear and Cheese

Pear and Cambozola Salad

1-2  d’Anjou or Bosc pears

8 red globe grapes

1 wedge Cambazola Blue cheese (camembert or brie work well too)

2-3 cups mache or mixed salad greens

Vinaigrette (2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil, 1 Tbsn red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard, dash salt and pepper)

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  • Cut pears in half lengthwise, core using a melon baller and thinly slice lengthwise.(Easiest done with cut side down)
  • Slice grapes
  • Cut 4 thick slices of cambazola
  • Wash and dry greens and toss in vinaigrette.
  • Place ¼ of the greens on a salad plate and arrange ¼ of the pear slices, grapes and 1 slice cambozola on top for each serving.

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing