recipes

Autumnal Stuffed Acorn Squash

squash
I feel just so lucky to have parents who live in the country. There may have been some years during my adolescence where I was frustrated by having to live in the backwoods, but now that I live in the city their property has become a retreat to me. In fact, a few weeks ago it was the chosen location for a bachlorette party in honour of my friend Melissa! Originally we were debating a night out, or a stay in a nice hotel. But all we  wanted to do was hang out (and maybe have a drink or two), so why not do that out in the country? And man, was it a total country event. The highlight was a midnight dance party in the old horse paddock (the horses have now left, otherwise I’m sure they would have been traumatized impressed by our moves).

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The other great thing about my parents’ property is their giant garden. This year they even ran a CSA for 40 people, and I was lucky enough to get some of the leftovers when I was home over thanksgiving. I have been racing to use up all the veggies my mom sent me back to the city with, including two acorn squash. I’m going to be honest with you, the only thing I’ve ever done with acorn squash is stuff them. Usually it’s with a mix of sautéed onions and celery, sunflower seeds, breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese. That’s the way a friend once made it for me when he learned I was vegetarian, and it’s delicious! But this time I also wanted to use up the leeks my mom got me, and also I was just craving risotto.

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(if you aren’t measuring your rice in a goose, you’re not cooking properly)

Frankly, if this website accurately depicted the food I want to be eating all the time, it would probably just be hundreds of recipes for risotto. I mean, it’s so versatile! And delicious! And until you add pounds of cheese to it, as I always do, not that unhealthy! I just love how risotto gets creamy on its own without any dairy. And properly seasoned, it needs just a touch of cheese for a nice richness.  This time I also topped it with some extra cheddar and broiled it, although it was as pretty just stuffed into the shells.
I just made one squash, though in retrospect the risotto made enough to have stuffed four halves. Next time I’m feeding a few people, this’ll be my main!

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(I think the leeks went better with the cheddar than regular onions would)

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(don’t scrap the squash out too much, you want to be able to move the squash around without it collapsing!)

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(nearly done!)

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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Leek and Cheddar Risotto
1 acorn squash
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt
3 leeks, sliced and rinsed well
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups vegetables broth (I used a bouillon cube and water instead)
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

Start by roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and slice your squash in half (be careful! I had to use multiple knives to get all the way through). Brush the squash halves with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast for 30 minutes, turning a few times (if you roast the squash with it’s cut sides down, it gets nice and brown!). Once it’s tender enough that you can easily use a fork on the flesh, take out of the oven and let cool slightly. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scrap the flesh out of the insides, leaving enough that the squash still has some integrity. Set the flesh aside in a bowl – you’ll add this to the risotto once it’s done.

Meanwhile, start your risotto. Heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat and add the leeks. Cook until slightly softened, then add the rice and stir so it’s fully coated in oil. Start adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally. Once you’ve added 2 cups, start testing the rice – risotto can be finicky and I find it’s easier to rely on tasting frequently to tell when it’s done!

Once the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, take it off the heat. Add 1 cup grated cheddar, a touch of salt and pepper, and the scooped-out squash flesh. Scoop the risotto into the squash shells, top with cheddar and broil until cheese is bubbly and just slightly browned.

I served mine with a side of garlicky kale, so I could justify eating something covered in melted cheese. Is that not how nutrition works? I’m pretty sure that’s how nutrition works.

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