There is something about the meaty texture of squashes that have been oven roasted that satisfy winter cravings for something hearty and substantial without being heavy.
Acorn squash can easily be a stand in for the “meat” of a dinner with it’s nutty scent and firm texture. Baking acorn squash with a filling also makes for an impressive presentation. It appears almost as a winter bouquet on your platter filled with many garden treats along with flavors of North African spices. It is elegant enough as an entree for a holiday meal or special event if you are entertaining vegans or vegetarians and has enough depth of flavor to be enjoyed by the meat eaters as well. This weekend we featured this dish on the menu for a luncheon at Greenport’s landmark synagogue, Tiferreth Israel, celebrating the 90th birthday of Stanley Rubin, a notable member of our North Fork community. If you missed it, this is your chance shop this weekend and create this dish for Meatless Monday!
1 acorn squash will make two substantial portions once you factor in the filling.
It is very difficult to cut acorn squash as the meat is dense. Washing and Pre-baking them whole will make it easier for you to get a cleaner cut without hurting yourself.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Place the squash whole on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes
Allow to cool then cut squashes in half, lengthwise
Remove seeds from stringy remnants. Discard the remnants or use for compost and set aside the seeds to season and toast later.
Drizzle the acorn halves with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt
Tent with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes
Remove the foil and turn oven up to 500 and bake another 10 minutes or until the meat begins to brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare your filling.
The Tagine filling (6 servings)
1/2 cup blanced carrots
1/2 cup of sliced string beans
1/2 cup of sliced red pepper
1/4 cup of mixed, chopped fresh herbs
a pinch of saffron
2 chopped and sauteed shallots
1 cup of seasonedfork garden stock
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1/8 of cayenne
1/8 of cumin
1 teaspoon of salt
1 Can organic garbanzo beans
Add all vegetable (except for the garbanzo beans) to a hot saute pan with EVOO until golden brown. Season with salt and the listed seasonings. Once the vegetables are browning, add the can of garbanzo beans including the liquid to the pan along with half a 1/4 cup of the garden stock. Simmer for 20 minutes and check consistency. If too thick, add more stock, if too thin, reduce for another 10 to 15 minutes. Do not add more salt until the Tagine reaches the desired consistency. Once the tagine has reached the desired consistency, re taste for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper or other seasonings. When ready to serve, add the tagine into the halves and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest so that the squash absorbs some of the liquid and serve on platter or individual plates, garnished with fresh herbs. If desired, you may make some cous cous or quinoa and sprinkle on top or serve on the side.
Serve with a bottle of hearty red like a Syrah from Laurel Lake Vineyards. The jammy flavors will stand up to the nutty flavor of the squash and North African spices.