Winter Squash

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Walnuts & Cranberries

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 acorn squashes, halved and seeded

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 pinches each sea salt and ground black pepper, divided

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tbsp raw honey

  • 4 tsp fresh lime juice

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper, optional

  • 2 cups spinach, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup naturally sweetened dried cranberries, chopped

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted walnuts, chopped

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut a little bit off the end of each squash half, if needed, to help it stand cut side up. Lightly coat squash with 1 tbsp oil, sprinkle with pinch each salt and pepper and place cut side down on a large baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile, cook quinoa: In a small saucepan, bring quinoa and 3/4 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet on medium, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and cook until softened and starting to turn golden, 4 to 6 minutes. 

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice, mustard, cayenne pepper (if using), and remaining pinch each salt and pepper. Add quinoa, onion, spinach, cranberries and walnuts; toss to coat. 

  5. To each squash cavity, place one-quarter of quinoa mixture in each well, pressing to fit. 

  6. To heat, place one serving on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes at 350°F or until squash is soft and filling is hot. To heat leftovers directly from refrigerator, heat at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Slow-Cooked Acorn Squash with Sage and Thyme

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, sliced crosswise ½" thick

  • ½ head of garlic

  • 2 sprigs sage

  • 2 sprigs thyme

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

PREPARATION:

  1. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Toss squash, garlic, sage, thyme, oil, and salt in a shallow 2-qt. baking dish to combine.

  2. Turn garlic cut side down, then roast vegetables, tossing 2 or 3 times, until golden brown, very tender, and edges and cut sides are crisp, 60–70 minutes.

  3. Let cool slightly, then add vinegar and toss to coat.

Delicata Squash Carbonara

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium delicata squash (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

  • 6 ounces pancetta (unsliced; about a 1"-thick piece)

  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

  • Pecorino cheese (for serving)

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Halve squash lengthwise, scrape out seeds, and slice crosswise into 1/4"-thick half-moons. Toss with oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

  2. Arrange squash slices on a wire rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet; place pancetta on rack next to squash. Roast until squash is tender, hasn't taken any color, and still holds its shape, and pancetta is browned all over (when pressed, it should feel like a well-done steak), 30-35 minutes. Transfer squash to a platter; set aside.

  3. Let pancetta cool slightly, then cut into 1/4" pieces. Pour any rendered fat in baking sheet into a large skillet. Add pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve skillet with drippings.

  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

  5. Add pasta to reserved skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid and toss to coat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

  6. Lightly beat egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl just to combine. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture and toss vigorously with tongs until a thick, glossy sauce forms, about 4 minutes. (If sauce still looks watery, keep tossing.)

  7. Add pancetta and reserved squash to pasta, season with salt and pepper, and toss everything together.

  8. Shave Pecorino over pasta and top with more pepper just before serving.

Acorn Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 acorn squash (peeled, seeded and cut into large cubes)

  • 1 onion (diced)

  • 2 carrots (sliced)

  • chili flakes (to taste)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 5 cups water (plus more if needed)

  • creme fraiche (to serve)

  • chives (minced, to serve)

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

  • extra-virgin olive oil

PREPARATION:

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the squash, onion, carrot, chili flakes, nutmeg, and season with a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables have broken down a bit and are soft. 

  2. Add the garlic and cook for one minute longer. Add the water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. 

  3. Blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning. 

  4. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of chives.

Stuffed Pumpkin

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped

  • About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

  • About 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

PREPARATION:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you'll have to serve it from the pot—which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn't so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I've always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I've been lucky.

  2. Using a very sturdy knife—and caution—cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

  3. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper—you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure—and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little—you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (It's hard to go wrong here.)

  4. Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

  5. When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully—it's heavy, hot, and wobbly—bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.

    Serving:You have a choice—you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I'm a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it's just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

    Storing: It's really best to eat this as soon as it's ready. However, if you've got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.