Friday, 3 February 2017

Stuffed Acorn Squash: Simplified

Whenever possible, I like to make recipes that include in-season produce. During the winter in Canada, our selection of in-season vegetables can be a bit limited. However, winter squash are a go to of mine! I love the versatility of winter squash; one variety can be substituted for another in almost any recipe. I chose acorn squash for this stuffed squash recipe, although you could also use Kabocha squash, sweet dumpling squash, or any other variety you have on hand.

Nutritional Benefits 
Winter squash is packed with beta carotene and potassium. Beta carotene is what gives vegetables and fruits their yellow or orange colouring. Beta carotene is an antioxidant which can help prevent certain diseases and can protect against the effects of free radicals, which damage our cells. Potassium helps to control our blood pressure and helps our nerves and muscles work together. Including potassium rich foods in our diets can help to lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Winter squash are also very low in calories and fat. 

Customize your Recipe!
This recipe can be tweaked based on your taste preferences and the ingredients you have on hand. I showed the ingredient combination I went with for this recipe, but noted other substitutions that can be made. The three components you should be sure add to any stuffed squash recipe are: 1) a grain 2) vegetables 3) a protein source. 
Grain Options

Vegetable Options
bell peppers
possibilities are really endless in this category!

Protein Options

This recipe is handy when you have a lot of left overs on hand. Throw in some left over rice and chicken, fry up some vegetables and voila! your stuffing is pretty much complete. As long as you have approximately 2 cups of stuffing per acorn squash, you are set! This is also a very visually appealing dish and a great one for dinner parties. 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves 2 

1 medium acorn squash
1/2 cup uncooked couscous (or other grain of your choice)
1.5 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetables of your choice
1/2 cup edamame beans (or other protein of your choice)
1/2 cup goat cheese (or other cheese of your choice: feta, cheddar, etc.)

  1. Begin by preparing the acorn squash. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Grease a baking dish or pan with olive oil and place squash face down on the pan. Cook for 35-45 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your grain. For couscous: bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat, add couscous, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes. Once done, fluff couscous with a fork prior to adding other ingredients.
  3. Add Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry powder to couscous. Set aside. 
  4. Prepare vegetables: heat olive oil and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat. Add vegetables of your choice and cook until tender. For this recipe, I went with: spinach, green onions, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and red pepper. 

  5. In a large bowl, stir vegetables into couscous mixture. Add protein of your choice. For this recipe I chose edamame beans. I purchased the frozen variety and simply heated them in the microwave with a bit of water (as per instructions) and then added them to the couscous/vegetable mixture. 
  6. Once acorn squash has been cooked, allow to cool. 
  7. Stuff acorn squash with your couscous/vegetable mixture and top with goat cheese. 
  8. Place squash halves in a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil, and cook for an additional 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. 
  9. Serve immediately. Top with extra cheese if desired or a dazzle of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

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