Stuffed Acorn Squash

It’s dark. Like dark dark. I realize that we have just one more day before this darkness trend is reversed, but I’ve reached my breaking point. It’s still dark at 8 when I stumble out of bed, and by the time I get it together to walk my dog in the afternoon, it’s dark again by 4. No wonder it’s the season of lights for just about every culture and religion on earth. 

To motivate myself out of my dark cocoon bed every morning, I walk around Greenlake with Luka and one of my friends-with-children, as they seem to be the only people available for casual exercise at 9am (post-breakfast, pre-nap). Mondays and Thursdays I meet Kendall, who, amongst other things, is an excellent cook. When I hit a cooking rut, Kendall usually drags me out of it. This time it was with stuffed squash.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm all for holiday gluttony. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without our (admittedly WASPy) Christmas dinner of prime rib, broccoli souffle, and flaming pudding.  But between thick cuts of red meat, pounds of fudge and toffee and angel bars and pie and, and, and, the list goes on. Between all that, I start having some pretty serious cravings for vegetables. 

This squash keeps up the Christmas spirit with its bright red and green hues, but it goes down a little lighter than spiral cut ham chased with mexican wedding cookies. The filling is tangy with the taste of fresh cranberries, but it’s mellowed out by smooth goat cheese and buttery pine nuts. You could use this mixture to fill any number of things, but I think it pairs nicely with the sweet flesh of the acorn squash to counteract the tart berries. Make a pot of rice ahead of time to speed up the dinner assembly process.

Christmasy Stuffed Acorn Squash
Adapted from Kendall Brown
Serves 4

2 acorn squash
1/2 cup rice, cooked
1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
1.5 cup fresh cranberries
1 bunch chard, chiffonade
3 T pine nuts, lightly toasted
Parmesan for topping
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook a half cup dry rice - I used brown basmati - and set aside. This step can be done ahead of time, or while the squash is roasting. 

Preheat oven to 350

Halve each squash, remove the seeds and place on a sheet pan cut side down.

Roast until soft, ~45 minutes

Toast pine nuts in a large pan until just darkening, then remove from pan and set aside. 

Add olive oil to hot pan and sauté garlic and onion until softening. 

Add chard that has been finely chiffonade and fresh cranberries.

Cook until chard is wilted and cranberries have just begun to pop.

Add rice, pine nuts, crumbled goat cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and remove from heat. 

When squash has finished cooking, flip cut side up and fill with rice mixture. Top with grated parmesan cheese and return to the oven to heat through and melt cheese, ~15 minutes.

These can be fully assembled ahead of time and stored in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, just place them on the sheet pan and pop in the oven. The will take a bit longer to warm all the way through.