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Winter Squash, Part 4: Acorn Squash

November 17, 2009

We are just beginning to discover the wealth of nourishment supplied by the mildly sweet flavored and finely textured winter squash, a vegetable that was once such an important part of the diet of the Native Americans that they buried it along with the dead to provide them nourishment on their final journey. In this fourth installment of our Squash celebration, we bring you the acorn squash. This beautiful vegetable has harvest-green skin speckled with orange patches and pale yellow-orange flesh with a unique flavor that is a combination of sweet, nutty and peppery. Acorn squash has distinctive longitudinal ridges and sweet, yellow-orange flesh.

The most common variety is usually dark green in color. However, newer varieties have arisen including Golden Acorn, known for its glowing pumpkin color, and even some that are white. They can also be multi-colored. As the name suggests, its shape resembles that of an acorn. It is also very good to eat, and is said to help your stomach.

To find a quality squash, search for one with a smooth, dry rind without any cracks or soft spots. The rind should be dull — a shiny rind indicates the squash was picked too early and will not be as sweet as is usually desired. Deep color is also a sign of a good acorn squash. For example, green acorn squash may have splashes of orange, but orange on more than half its surface is a bad sign. Also, acorn squashes should feel heavy for their size.

Before eating, scoop out the seeds and fibers. Acorn squash is most commonly baked, but also be microwaved, sautéed, and steamed. The acorn squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as other winter squashes, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, mangnesium, and manganese.

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup uncooked couscous

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Dissolve the sugar in the melted butter. Brush squash with the butter mixture, and keep squash warm while preparing the stuffing.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook 5 minutes.
Mix in the garbanzo beans and raisins. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender.
Pour the chicken broth into the skillet, and mix in the couscous. Cover skillet, and turn off heat. Allow couscous to absorb liquid for 5 minutes.
Stuff squash halves with the skillet mixture to serve.

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One comment

  1. Sounds delicious! I made a similar Moroccan-style stuffed acorn squash over the weekend.
    http://michaelbeyer.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/moroccan-style-stuffed-acorn-squashes/



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