O.K., I don’t want to cause mass hysteria or anything, but did you know that Thanksgiving is 3 mere weeks away? As in 21 days! Am I the only one starting to, if not panic, at least feel a little urgency to figure out all the plans? Now, truth be told, my mom and I come up with the menu and distribute the dishes between the 2 of us. And truthfully, there are dishes that will be on our menu that have been our menu since time immemorial. So it’s not like we’re throwing the First Thanksgiving meal or anything, but still…it’s a special meal and deserves special menu items which may require a little extra special thought beforehand. That’s all I’m saying.
Our typical Thanksgiving Menu looks something like this:
Gravy (a make ahead recipe that I’ll be back and share next week)
Stuffing (Mom’s recipe)
Mashed Potatoes (my dad prepares these with lots of butter and roasted garlic)
A Variety of Pies (Pumpkin, Pecan and Apple)
Two of the menu items that usually fall under my purview are the salad and the vegetable. For the past several years, I’ve made these Bacon Wrapped Vegetable Bundles that are just so good ( I mean…they have bacon…they have to be good). And while I love those bundles, I feel the need to mix it up a bit this year, step out of my Thanksgiving vegetable rut and onto the wild (ish) side. Wild (ish) only that we’ll try something new. Not sure that acorn squash will ever make anyone’s list of a ‘wild side’ vegetable.
Then genesis of this stuffed acorn squash recipe was some roasted vegetables I made a couple of weeks ago. I roasted delicata squash, onion, garlic and apples, coating all with olive oil and a sprinkling of nutmeg. That combination proved very tasty and well-received by my family. So when I was pondering on what to do for this Thanksgiving’s vegetable, my mind went right back to that dish. And just because it makes everything better, I added some pancetta, which I found already in a small dice in my grocery store deli! Yay Me!
Maybe it’s me, but all squash (except for Spaghetti Squash which I can do without) taste pretty similar. The big difference between different squash varieties, in my book anyway, is the ease with which these little buggers can be peeled and chopped without losing a digit in the process. Delicata squash wins hands down with regards to ease of cutting. It’s not a hard as butternut and doesn’t have all the deep crevices of acorn squash. So it was an easy decision to chose the delicata for filling the acorn squash.
After peeling the delicata, to approximate 1″ cubes, I did the same with the Granny Smith apple, who was chosen for it’s firm texture. I figured it would stand up to roasting better than many other apple varieties. I tried to keep the apple chunks the same size as the squash cubes.
While these 2 vegetables, with a dusting of nutmeg, were roasted along with the acorn squash, I sauteed some chopped pancetta and red onion in a wee bit of olive oil and rosemary. When the squash & apple were cooked, I tossed the cubed roasted squash and apple with the pancetta/onion/rosemary sautee and filled the just-from-the-oven acorn squash. This stuff acorn squash couldn’t be easier for a vegetable to prepare when the kitchen is busy with many other preparations. All the cutting can be done ahead of time, the roasting is hands-off and then it’s just a matter of tossing everything together. I like the combination of the sweet roasted apple with the smokey bacon and the creamy squash.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pancetta and Nutmeg
- 2 Acorn Squash
- 2 Delicata Squash (or another squash that will yield approximately 4 cups of squash cubes)
- 2 Granny Smith Apples
- 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
- Olive Oil
- 3/4 cup chopped Pancetta
- 1 Red Onion (diced)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Rosemary
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450′
- Cut squash and apple into approximate 1 inch cubes.
- Spritz with olive oil or put some olive oil (1 tablespoon) in a bag and toss cubed squash and apple to coat lightly in olive oil
- Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with nutmeg
- Slice Acorn Squash in half and place cut side up on a tray with cubed squash and apple. The thickness of the acorn squash and the cubed vegetables in about the same, so they cook rather evenly.
- Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender. If your cubes are cooking quicker than your half acorn remove them sooner. You can warm them back up with the sauteed pancetta if they get cold
- While squash is roasting, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet, heat to medium and add pancetta and onion and sautee until pancetta is cooked and onions are tender
- Add rosemary and set aside.
- Once squash is cooked, toss the cooked squash and apples with the pancetta/apple mixture and fill the hot acorn squash halves.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
So, I think I can cross another to-do off my list. I’m pretty sure this stuffed acorn squash is what will be our vegetable this year for Thanksgiving. Yay me…another thing crossed off! Two in one week. What’s on your Thanksgiving Dinner menu that’s been there forever and what’s a new dish you’ll try this year?
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