My mom makes some of the most delicious food I’ve EVER eaten. As a child I remember being drawn in by the aroma into the kitchen, and wondering what was on the menu that day. And you could bet it would be something fresh and delicious. Surprisingly even though I lived in India my favourite was always Continental cuisine. The phrase ‘from the continent’ is a reference to mostly English cuisine that has been re-worked over the years to suit the Indian palate. England’s colonization of India has been rightfully assigned a lot of blame but I consider Continental cuisine one of it’s blessings for sure!
Afraid Of the Oven?
Despite the English influence on dining tables across India, people reserved baking for special occasions. Uncertain power supply across the country ensured that an oven was not widely available. My parents bought their first oven in the late 80’s. It was round, circular with a glass window and looked nothing like the ones you see today. I wish I had a picture to share with you but it was before the times of camera phones.
I grew up thinking baking was something hard even complicated that could be done only on those leisurely days. In the past few years, especially since having kids I have changed my mind. Not only is roasting and baking easy, it also helps food develop different flavours not always available through stovetop cooking. And then there are the dishes that don’t really taste great cooked in a pan but turn heavenly in the oven. Squash is one of those foods.
Roasting Acorn Squash
Last week the family and I were out apple picking just outside of Toronto. The day was beautiful and after picking bags and bags of apples we ended up at the vegetable farm and finally the pumpkin patch. We came home that evening with a couple of bright orange pie pumpkins, a carnival squash and of course acorn squashes.
Now I’ve never been a fan of squashes and neither are my kids. But with such glorious Ontario produce in front of me I was inspired.
The result was delicious, healthy and vegetarian, and the kids thought so too! I see a series of pumpkin recipes in our future.
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Mushrooms and Cumin-Scented Rice
First the prepwork. Peeling the squash is hardwork. Rinse it first and then hold it firmly on the kitchen counter. Then using a large chef’s knife (large sized blade with sharp but no serrated edge) cut through the hard peel and slice it open lengthwise. Then using a large spoon scoop out the membranes and seeds. That’s it! you’re ready to add in the flavour.
Real Life Kitchen Tips
- Most squash is tough to cut and peel so baking them whole or halved makes sense on many levels.
- Season the squash liberally for the first baking. Go ahead, it can take a lot of flavour.
- Pre-cook the stuffing. Raw mushrooms leach out their liquid during cooking and will make the squash soggy from the inside.
- Use a tangy cheese. I happen to love the flavour of goat cheese even more so since I discovered President’s Choice Blue Menu goat cheese that’s yummy and low in fat.
- 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
- 100 gms low-fat goat cheese
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup cooked rice
- 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Drizzle the squash halves with olive oil, salt, pepper and a 1/2 tsp of ground cumin.
- Drop in a couple of garlic cloves to use for later.
- Bake for 30 mins.
- Stir fry the mushrooms. Let the liquid evaporate or spoon it out.
- Add in the goat cheese, stir and let it melt.
- Add in the cooked rice and toss. I have made this with leftover white rice and also wild rice. Delicious both times.
- After the squash has spent it's first 30 mins in the oven. Take it out and keep the garlic aside.
- Scoop the stuffing in and the garlic on top.
- Put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Serve the dish warm topped with a sprig of something green. I used rosemary - I love it's smell. Coriander or even parsley would have done the trick.
From the top the dishes are:
Turkey Soup @ The Inspired Home
Apple Bread Pudding with Apple Brandy Caramel Sauce @ Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Cumin-scented Baked Acorn Squash @ Maple and Marigold
Seriously The Best Sandwich Bread Ever From @ Mommydo
Sweet Potato Mash With Caramelized Onions @ Allergy Girl Eats