Many different types of squash are very good for you. I eat a lot of butternut squash because this type has a fairly robust amount of flesh and is easy to peel and cut up. I also really enjoy acorn squash, which caramelizes quickly and offers a sweet, rich flavor. Beyond the flavor of acorn squash is a fair amount of health benefits. Now, in this post, I’ll only be writing about acorn squash, but similar benefits apply to many different types.
Check this out:
Acorn squash contains vitamin A, niacin, folate, thiamine and vitamin B-6, but it is an especially good source of vitamin C. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked, cubed acorn squash provides approximately 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for healthy adults following a 2,000-calorie diet.
Last night, I prepared two full squash that yielded four servings. The dinner was excellent and both Laura and I were stuffed to the gills. The recipe wasn’t terribly difficult to prepare and there were many healthy and flavorful ingredients included. I’m pretty excited about this dish.
I already talked about the squash used in this recipe. As far as the filling goes, it’s awesome. It takes advantage of barley, sweet onion, fennel, garlic, walnuts and herbs. The flavor is derived from the toasting of the walnuts, the herbs and Parmesan cheese, among other things. There’s a lot going on here and now that it’s getting chilly outside, I can tell you from personal experience that there’s nothing like curling up on the couch in front of the wood stove to enjoy a wonderful stuffed acorn squash dinner.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Medium Sized Acorn Squash
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
3/4 Cup Dry Pearl Barley
1 Large Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 Fennel Bulb with Stalks, Cored, Trimmed and Chopped
6 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped
1/4 Cups Walnuts, Crushed and Toasted
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for this recipe. I pulled it from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. Their version is called Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley, but I thought a more descriptive title was in order, so I expanded upon it for this post.
Arrange the racks in the oven so one of them is in the center bottom position. Then, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prep & Cook the Squash
The first thing you’ll need to do, food-wise, is to cut both of the acorn squash in half, from stem to stem. Then, clean the seeds out from each piece.
Next, line a baking sheet (or in my case, a cast iron pizza pan) with aluminum foil and brush the foil with olive oil. Then, brush the flesh of the squash with olive oil as well. After that, sprinkle the insides of the squash halves with some salt and pepper and place, face down, on the foil.
When the oven is to temperature, place the baking sheet on the bottom rack and let cook for about 45 minutes. You’ll know when they’re finished when you see the caramelization like you do in the photo below. Also, you’ll be able to slide a fork into the flesh easily.
When finished, remove the tray from the oven and flip the squash over. Keep the oven on.
Cook the Barley
Since the squash takes a while to cook, you can prepare the filling in the meantime. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. When it is boiling, add the barley and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
After the barley has been added, bring the water back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Once finished, strain and place the cooked barley in a bowl for later use.
Prep Remaining Ingredients
I used the time the barley was cooking to prep the remaining ingredients. First, I chopped the fennel and sweet onion and placed it in a bowl.
Then, I chopped the parsley and placed it in a bowl as well.
And then, I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the crushed walnuts and browned them over medium heat in a small skillet.
Cook the Fennel & Onion
After the barley was finished cooking, I used the same pot to soften the fennel and onion. I warmed the pot over medium heat, added 1 tablespoon of olive oil and added the onion and fennel. I then cooked, while stirring, for about 10 minutes until the ingredients were softened.
Once that was finished, I added the garlic, thyme and coriander to the fennel and onion mixture, stirred and cooked for another minute. After that, I turned off the stove top heat and added the cooked barley, parsley, walnuts, 3/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Finally, I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and mixed everything together thoroughly.
The final step necessary to create the filling is to scoop out some of the flesh from each piece of squash and then add it to the pot of other ingredients. I would say to remove half of the inside layer of flesh. Once you do that, simply add the squash flesh to the pot and stir well again.
Assemble the Stuffed Squash
Now that all the pieces have been prepared, you can assemble the stuffed squash. Fill each half of squash with filling until you have a nice mound in each one.
Then, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over each mound of filling.
When this is done, place the assembled squash that are still on the baking tray back in the oven. Let them sit in there for about 10 minutes until the Parmesan cheese melts. Once it does, remove the tray and turn off the heat. At this point, you can drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top of the Parmesan, so it soaks into the filling. I’d say about 1 teaspoon of vinegar per piece.
The Final Stuffed Squash
As I said above, this is a great dish for a chilly autumn night. Get ready to be filled up with deliciousness because this is a good one. Enjoy!