Fall is one of my favorite times to cook. The flavors get darker, the vegetables change, the fruits are dried or preserved, and we all look for ways to make food that’s cozy, comfy, and warm for those chilly autumn evenings.
A good stuffed squash incorporates all those flavors and meets all those criteria. Plus, it gives you a great reason to buy a couple of those handsome-looking gourds at the grocery store.
My recipe contains savory notes: caramelized red onion and sauteed leeks. But it also brings subtly sweet notes like figs and tart, green apples. It looks cheery and smells and tastes like the very best fall has to offer.
1 acorn, delicata, or small butternut or kabocha squash
1 Tbsp. butter, lard, or olive oil
Half a red onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 large or three small leeks, white & yellow parts, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 small green apple, chopped
4-5 dried figs or dates cut in pieces, or 1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup goat or cream cheese, crumbled
Optional: chopped baby bello mushrooms, wilted spinach, lardons, etc.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Halve your squash, clean out its innards, and prick them deeply all over the inside with a fork. Rub them all over with olive oil and place them in a baking dish or on a baking sheet. If they want to roll over or wobble, slice off a sliver from the side that’s on the dish to make a flat bottomed-squash. Stick ’em in the oven until nearly tender (time will vary based on the squash size).
In a saute or frying pan, heat the fat. Add the onion and salt and saute until translucent. Toss in the leeks and continue to saute for 4-5 more minutes. Add the balsamic (fruity if you can find it) and stir, then toss in the apple, dried fruit, and pine nuts, stirring until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the crumbled cheese.
Pull the squash out of the oven and stuff lightly with the cooked veggie/fruit mixture. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the squash is thoroughly tender. Let it cool and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. To eat it, just scrape your fork against the inside of the squash, separating its flesh from the rind.