Healthy Recipes from Martine, Certified Nutrition Consultant
One of my favorite make ahead Thanksgiving showstoppers - Stuffed Acorn Squash. This beauty of a side dish can be placed alongside a roast turkey and some pies for a pretty impressive spread, but actually is fairly easy to prepare. The key is to pre-roast the squash, then add the filling and bake everything again for 30 minutes right before serving.
2 medium (similarly sized) whole acorn squash
3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces diced pancetta
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stems removed and roughly chopped
½ cup cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups unseasoned stuffing bread cubes
Preheat the oven to 375. Slice off the very bottom portion of the acorn squash, just so it can stand upright on a baking tray. Slice off the top of the squash about an inch and a half down from the stem. Using a paring knife, carefully carve out a relatively large hole in the top of the squash, and scoop out all the seeds and pulp - as if you were preparing a jack o'lantern.
Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil and a generous pinch or two of salt and pepper straight into the cavity of each acorn squash, and using clean hands, evenly spread the oil and seasoning all over the inside and top cut portion of the squash. Place them cut side down (bottoms up) on a baking tray lined with foil. Bake for approximately one hour.
While the squash is cooking, heat a pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the pancetta. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and thyme and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream, milk, pumpkin puree, ½ teaspoon salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix to combine.
When the squash has finished baking, take it out of the oven to cool for about 5-7 minutes. (Leave the oven on) Very carefully, flip them right side up - being careful as there may be some steam in the cavity.
In the bowl with the cream mixture, add the unseasoned stuffing bread cubes and the mushroom and pancetta combo. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Fill the cavity of the squash with the stuffing mixture, pressing down a bit as you go. The stuffing can come up a little over the top. Pour any extra liquid over the stuffing, so it goes in the cavity. Add the squash tops to the tray on the side. About 45 minutes before serving time, place the tray back in the oven to cook for an additional 30 minutes. (Any leftover stuffing can be baked in a dish on the side for 20 minutes. (Definitely don’t let it go to waste!)
Serve warm or at room temperature. The fully cooked squash can be presented whole but can also be easily cut down the middle when fully cooked.
Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!
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