Stuffed to the Gills

January 3, 2008 at 10:35 am 10 comments

Stuffed Acorn Squash 

I’m pretty sure we’re all in the same boat here.  A boat, that is, which requires a person to steer, hoist the sails, scrub the deck, cook the chow, climb the crow’s nest, and maintain some semblance of order all at the same time!  And if I’m the only one in this boat, someone please send help! 

Thanks to this juggling act, I’ve had more than a few casualties in the kitchen.   By casualties, I mean two things.  First, there are the vegetable casualties that go rotten or dry out into unrecognizable lumps because I couldn’t get around to using them in time.  The first acorn squash I had earlier this fall met with such a fate, much to my dismay as I had a lovely soup in mind for it.  The other causalty is my nutrition.  Despite what this blog might lead you to believe, there are many evenings when I either eat nothing or eat way too much of the wrong thing because I’m just too pressed for time to make myself the correctly proportioned and balanced plate. 

Acorn squash, shallot, apple and uncooked Israeli couscous

Last night was shaping up to be a one-two punch.  My second acorn squash was about to head the way of the first. I had planned to stuff it with two of my favorite foods, Israeli couscous and soy bacon.  But I was late getting out of work and there were errands to run, not to mention the most bitterly cold headwind to slow me down on my bike ride home.  Tired and hungry, I just about threw in the towel by eating popcorn for dinner (it wouldn’t have been the first time, I assure you).  Still, I didn’t want to waste another gorgeous acorn squash and didn’t know if I’d be able to get another locally grown one if I did. 

Acorn squash cut in half

Here’s where the light bulb would go off in the cartoon scene where Elmer Fudd thinks he’s finally got a way to outsmart Buggsy.  I’ve always baked my squash, which takes quite awhile.  Surely the microwave would cut down on that time, right?  Boy, does it!  Instead of an hour, the squash got zapped for just under five minutes and was ready to be stuffed and then baked off in the oven for a few minutes to bring all the flavors together.  Cooking the couscous took longer than the squash.  If you have some couscous cooked beforehand, this meal could be ready in about 20 minutes.  Rachel Ray would be so proud…

Toasted couscous

While shortcuts in the kitchen can sometimes compromise taste, I didn’t notice any difference at all in my microwaved acorn squash, perhaps because the couscous stuffing is so flavorful.  All I know for sure is that by the time I finished eating, I was happily stuffed myself and glad to have avoided two more kitchen casualties. 

Couscous filling for Stuffed Acorn Squash

If you have the time and prefer the taste of baked vegetables to those steamed in the microwave, cut squash as directed and place upside down in a baking dish with just enough water to cover the bottom of the dish.  Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes until a sharp knife easily slides into the squash.  Don’t let the squash get too soft though as it will bake more after being stuffed.  Proceed with recipe as directed. 

A Straight from the Farm Original

1 large acorn squash
1 c. Israeli couscous
1 small apple, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 c. fat free sour cream
1/4 c. grated parmesan or asagio cheese
6 strips of (soy) bacon, cooked
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. fresh or dried thyme
1/4 t. crushed coriander seeds (optional)

Toast couscous in a skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, being sure to shake the skillet occasionally to toss.  Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil.  Place toasted couscous in boiling water and boil uncovered for approximately 15-20 minutes until the majority of the water has been absorbed and couscous is soft. 

Cut acorn squash in half across and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on a microwave-safe plate and cook on high for 4 1/2 minutes in the microwave.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, mix together minced shallot, diced apple, grated cheese, thyme, coriander (if using) and sour cream.  Add cooked couscous and stir to combine.  Crumble bacon into bowl and stir gently just until incorporated.  Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Trim just enough off the ends of the squash halves to ensure they can sit up like cups.  Fill with couscous mixture and place in small baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes for flavors to combine. 

Remove from oven and serve garnished with a sprig of fresh herbs.  Serve two halves for a main dish or one half as a side.   Any extra stuffing makes a great lunch the next day.

(serves 1-2)

Stuffed Acorn Squash with a side of sauteed beets

Entry filed under: Recipes, Veggies w/ Protein. Tags: , , , .

For Those with Resolve Friday Fun ‘n Flashbacks

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. marimann  |  January 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Congratulations on discovering microwaving the squash and avoiding a kitchen casualty! I discovered this a few years ago and have done my squashes and pumpkins this way ever since. I don’t taste any difference and neither has anyone I’ve served a squash or pumpkin pie to…this recipe sounds really good, I do a similar one with acorn squash but stuffed with sauteed apples and onions mixed with raisins, sour cream, swiss cheese & cinnamon. Sounds awful until you mix it all together and put it into the squash, the smell is drool-inducing!

  • 2. Jennie  |  January 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Actually, Mari, that stuffing of yours sounds delectable to me! 🙂

    So I’m not a brilliant genius for discovering the microwave? Drats! 😉 Do you do large pie pumpkins in there too? I’m intrigued.

  • 3. taylor  |  January 4, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Israeli couscous is one of my favorite textures to roll around in my mouth!

  • 4. Jennie  |  January 4, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Taylor – Isn’t it fun?? I love the stuff! I buy it in huge bulk bags ’cause me loves it so much. 🙂

  • 5. gintoino  |  January 4, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    looks delicious jennie. I’ve been discovering the joy of eating squash/pumpkin (in portuguese we don’t really differentiate between the two), but it’s still difficult to find many varieties in the market (which is way I’m planting them in my vegetable garden 😉 )
    How are your planns to travel to Portugal going? Just remembered some more places to visit and things to eat. Since you will be staying in Lisbon you have to go to Sintra (it’s near and drop dead gorgeous place to visit), and while there you need to try the “queijadas de sintra” (pastries made of cottage cheese), and “travesseiros de Sintra”. They are both delicious
    If you’re interested in and history and monuments you will have to visit both the palaces (the Palacio de Sintra and the Palacio da Pena – the second one beeing my favourite. If you google it I’m sure you’ll find info and images on the subject”).You can also visit the Palacio Nacional de Mafra (in Mafra, near Lisbon) constructed by our king D João V as payment of a promise, if his wife would produce an heir . That’s it today from “traveling aid”, I’ll be posting more suggestions as I remember them. 🙂

  • 6. Jennie  |  January 4, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Gintoino – THANK YOU!!! Keep the “traveling aid” coming! I have bought my ticket and will be there from 27 Feb to 10 March. Can’t wait to see your country! I was planning on Sintra for sure. Will look into Pena and Mafra too. Definitely let me know of what food to find! Will there be much fresh produce yet at that time of year? I would love to see some vegetable markets but maybe it’s too cold still. Where shall I drop the cranberries??? 🙂

  • 7. marimann  |  January 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Yes, of course you are a brilliant genius for discovering the squash-microwaving…just like me! 🙂

    I think the biggest pumpkin I’ve done is about the size of someone’s large head. I cut off the top, cut the pumpkin into sections, remove the seeds and then stand the sections up in my largest casserole dish that will fit in the micro. Put an inch or so of water in the bottom, cover it all with plastic wrap (leave a little vent hole), and nuke on high maybe 5 or 10 minutes at a time to make sure you don’t over-nuke it. Take the slices out of the casserole to cool and drain, scrape the innards into the food processor, process and voila! Genius, no?

  • 8. Jennie  |  January 4, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    You are indeed a genius, Mari!!! Thanks for the detailed instructions. I feel like it’s a whole new world!! 🙂

  • 9. Christine  |  January 7, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I haven’t microwaved a pumpkin, but I’ve microwaved a winter squash with fabulous results — and you don’t even have to cut it up and seed it first. (With a large pumpkin I imagine you would have to hack it up first as marimann does.) I just put the squash on a glass pie plate with a little water, poke a few slits in the squash with a sharp knife, and zap away for about 10 minutes depending on the size of the squash. When the knife slips through easily, it’s done. Just let it cool a tiny bit, slice it open, and scoop out the seeds. they pop right out and then you can scoop out the flesh, or serve it out of the shell. WAY less time-consuming than baking — so I don’t have to reserve squash for weekends only!

  • 10. Jennie  |  January 7, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Darn it! I really am not a genius after all! Christine, why didn’t you tell me about this trick before??? Well, now I feel just plain silly. 🙂 Still, this recipe is perfection so I stand by its genius at least!


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