Martha Stewart Living (October 2009)
As we mentioned earlier, we just returned a long weekend in Vermont with Zach's family. It was gorgeous -- with the foliage at peak color, we spent our days exploring impossibly cute villages and marveling at the explosions of crimson and gold that blanketed the mountains and valleys. Seriously, the entire state is like one big Sears Portrait Studio backdrop.
It really got us in the mood for fall -- and especially fall cooking!
These Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash are a gorgeous little swath of Autumn. They're warm and inviting, and the cinnamon, nutmeg and golden raisins really capture the flavors of the season.
At this point, we're going to play a bit of Choose Your Own Adventure: Bitten-Word-style.
If you would like to read some discussion about ground beef that includes some potentially off-putting but important details about the ground beef industry, move along to point A below.
If you want to skip all that potentially unappetizing talk, skip down to point B.
POINT A: An Unappetizing But Informative Discussion of Ground Beef and Disease:
Before we get to this recipe, we need to take a moment to talk about ground beef. It's been on our minds a lot about it lately -- thanks to this horrifying New York Times article about the dangers of E. coli in commercially processed ground beef. We won't get into all the gory details here, but suffice it to say, we've sworn off pre-packaged ground beef.
Instead of buying ground beef, we've been purchasing whole cuts of beef and then grinding them ourselves in our food processor. We found a method last year that works beautifully: cutting the meat into cubes, freezing it slightly and then grinding it in the Cuisinart. Freezing it this way first results in perfectly ground meat, rather than a stringy, mashy mess. If you don't have a food processor, you do of course have the option of buying a whole cut of meat and asking the butcher at your supermarket to grind it for you.
Another option for peace of mind, of course, is asking the butcher at your supermarket about the origin of the ground beef sold there. Or you can also find a local meat supplier (at, for instance, a farmer's market).
Okay, enough digression on ground beef.
POINT B: Mmmmmmmm!
These Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash are really, amazingly delicious, and they can be on your dinner table in less than an hour. We loved the great crunch of the pine nuts, the tender, juicy golden raisins, and the rich, sumptuous roasted squash.
One note: We did find this recipe a little underseasoned as is. We ended up essentially doubling the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pine nuts and raisins. Obviously, you can adjust it to taste, but we were really happy with it once we amped up the flavor.
Oh, one other note: This recipe doesn't spell it out, but you should shave the bottoms off of the acorn squash so they'll sit flat in the casserole dish after you've filled them. Nothing drastic -- just enough to give them a flat bottom.
We think you'll absolutely LOVE these squash! If you (like us) just can't wait to start cooking with the flavors of fall, these may just be the the perfect dish.
- 2 medium acorn squashes (about 2 pounds), halved and seeded
- 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 lb. ground chuck (95 percent lean)
- ground cinnamon
- ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp. course salt
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1. Preheat oven to 400. Place squashes, cut sides down in a 9×13 inch casserole dish. Bake until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 4-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add ground beef, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer beef to a bowl or plate using a slotted spoon, keeping as much of the cooking liquid in the pot as possible.
3. Add onion, and cook until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining teaspoon salt and the bulgur, and stir to combine. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Take pot off the stove and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, and add reserved beef, the raisins, parsley and pine nuts.
4. Scrape out baked squashes, forming 1/4 inch thick bowls, and fold flesh into bulgur mixture. Divide among squash halves, and return to the oven. Bake until warmed through and tops are browned. 12 to 14 minutes.