Each Wednesday, Diet? Not Again! will become Pick of the Week, the weekly column I wrote for more than two decades for The Advocate and Greenwich Time, two newspapers in
The hardest part about resurrecting the column was choosing the first pick. I finally decided on acorn squash, the perfect fall/winter vegetable. As soon as there is a bite in the air, there is a basket on my counter, mixed in with an assortment of apples and pears. To me, it's screams autumn and harvest, the calm before the holiday storm.
Choose: A well shaped squash, heavy for its size. Look it over: There should be no burises, cuts of soft spots.
Store: In a cool dry place. The beauty of winter squash is that it keeps for two months, which is why I always have a basket filled with the beauties in full view. Fall art.
Cook: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking dish with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Wash the outside of the squash, even though you won't be eating it. Just good practice with any fruit and vegetable. Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds by scraping with a spoon. Place squash halves, cut side down, in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn squash. I sprinkle with cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, but this is not necessary. Cover with foil and bake about 20 minutes more. You can also cook the halves in a microwave oven, in a baking dish, cut side down, with 2 tablespoons water on High for about 9 minutes. Let stand, covered, five minutes.
NOTE: If you have problems cutting the tough skin of the squash, just pop the whole squash in a microwave oven for a minute to soften a bit. If the squash halves roll, cut a small sliver from the bottom of each squash so they stand straight.
BAKED STUFFED ACORNS
2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tblsp. ginger, minced
1 tart apple, diced
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line baking dish with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place squash, cut side down,on baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
- While squash is baking, spray saute pan with cooking spray. Add onion and salt and pepper and saute until onion is soft, but not brown. Add ginger and apples and saute about 5 minutes more. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Transfer to a bowl.
- Add bread crumbs, walnuts and cranberries to onion mixture; toss.
- Fill squash halves with stuffing.
- Drizzle oil over squash. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Makes 4 side-dish servings.
- NOTE: To make this a main dish, when making stuffing, add about half pound cooked sausage, removed from casing and crumbled.