One thing that gets me excited for cooler temperatures on the way is the appearance of one of my favorite orange vegetables: winter squash. I’ve always loved squash, growing it from the time I was little. But in my memory, I had little variation in how I ate this squashy vegetable. Last fall I received so many squash in my CSA membership that I made squash apple soup, squash mashed potatoes and reserved some puree in the freezer.
And there was one recipe that I had to try after seeing it at a dietitian meeting I’d attended a couple of years ago at Mayo Clinic. It was called ‘Top Your Own Squash Bar’. Not only was is simple, delicious and nutritious, but it was perfect for suiting a variety of different taste preferences.
Top Your Own Squash Bar
Serves 4 (1/2 squash each)
- 2 acorn squash, halved
- Pick 1 cup sautéed protein: diced chicken breast, diced turkey, lean ground beef or pork tenderloin
- Pick 2 cups vegetables sautéed in 1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil: celery, red pepper, mushrooms, carrots, yellow onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower
- 2 cups pre-cooked long grain brown and wild rice (cooked in low-sodium chicken broth)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional – parmesan cheese, bread crumbs for topping
- Place halved acorn squash cut-side down in rimmed pan with 1/2 inch water in pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare all toppings. Saute your protein choice and veggies in separate pans, boil rice. (Hint – if this is already done, just re-warm all toppings.) Place toppings in separate bowls on the table.
- Time to build it – use hot acorn squash right away once removed from oven. Or keep warm in oven until ready for meal. Top with desired toppings. Optional, place acorn squash under broiler if adding a little breadcrumbs or Parmesan cheese to top of filling for a crunch or melty treat.
Another idea – utilize a sauté pan to mix all topping ingredients together to create a stuffing-like filling. And ooohhh, I bet dried cranberries would be a great addition!
Jen Haugen is a mom, registered dietitian and a supermarket nutrition expert. Check out her website, which features more recipes, at https://jenhaugenrd.wordpress.com/. A slightly different version of this blog post originally appeared on her website.