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Despite the fact that the heat and humidity was nearly unbearable on Saturday night, I opted to use a lot of oven time to make these stuffed acorn squash.  They came out absolutely delicious.  I recommend splitting one and only eating half, unless you’re very hungry.  I almost finished a whole one, and I thought I was famished.  The side of roasted carrots, pearl onions, and mushrooms I’ll detail in another post soon.

The original recipe called for bacon, but I substituted turkey bacon for a healthier option.  It was incredible.  Also, this recipe calls for Swiss chard, and I must admit I had to do a Google search to find out what exactly chard was.  It’s a leafy green vegetable related to beets, although the leaves are eaten and not the roots.  It’s like spinach in taste and texture, and bitter if eaten raw (though the bitterness disappears when cooked).  My last note is that this recipe is rather time-intensive.  Overall, since I made the side of roasted vegetables as well, I was in the kitchen for a little over an hour and a half.  I want to stress how incredibly worth it it was, though!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

adapted from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

3 medium acorn squash
5 T olive oil
salt and pepper
12 slices turkey bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 1/2 lbs. Swiss chard, washed, dried, stems and
center veins removed, and ripped into salad-size strips
10 oz. assorted mushrooms (any kind you’d like)
1 tsp finely chopped thyme (or use 1/2 tsp dried)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 T butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Soak about 20 toothpicks in warm water.

2.  Using a sharp knife, slice off a little of the squash bottoms so they sit flat.  Turn squash on their sides and cut off tops (about 1-2 inches), exposing the seeds.  Slice away all or most of the green peel (it is edible but you want a lot of the inner vegetable exposed so the bacon juices cook in).  Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and membrane.  Brush squash with 1 T olive oil and season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Working one squash at a time, wrap 4 slices of bacon around each so they resemble the spokes of a wheel, tucking one end of each strip under the squash and securing the other end inside the rim with a toothpick.  Place a rack in the bottom of a shallow baking dish.  Arrange squash, hollow side down, on rack.  Bake on center oven rack 30 minutes (baste every 10 minutes with pan juices if using regular bacon, which will release much more juice than turkey bacon) – until bacon is brown and squash is nearly tender when pierced with a knife.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

4.  Warm 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is soft. Increase heat to medium-high and start adding chard in big batches.  As greens wilt, transfer to a plate and add more chard to pan until it is all wilted.  Return all chard to pan and cook until tender yet still quite green.  Transfer all to a plate to cool.

5.  Add 2 T olive oil to the same pan on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms.  Stir until mushrooms are tender and no liquid is left in the pan.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  When chard is cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess juice.  Toss chard and onion mix with mushrooms.  Add thyme and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Preheat oven to 500 F.  Mix bread crumbs with melted butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove toothpicks from squash and turn them right side up in the baking dish.  Stuff squash with the chard mixture so it’s packed and creates a small mound.  (You will have plenty of filling to really pack in the chard mixture.  When eating, this will be a plus, since there is a lot of squash and you want plenty of stuffing to eat with it.)  Top each squash with a layer of bread crumbs.  Bake 10 minutes on center oven rack, until crust is golden brown and squash are heated through.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.  Use a sharp knife to cut each squash in half (between bacon slices).

me securing the bacon with toothpicks

stuffed squash just before the final round in the oven

delicious final meal!