Squash are native to the Western Hemisphere. Archaeological evidence from Mexico indicates that this mild-flavored vegetable was an important food as long ago as 7000 B.C. In the 1500s, the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro noted that squash were a mainstay of the Incan diet. The squash, cranberries, and pecans in this recipe – all native to America – celebrate the bounty of the New World and the fall harvest.
2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 plus 1/4 cups cranberries
1 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
3 medium portabello mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Trim a small slice off the back of each squash half to keep it from rocking. Place squash, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Add enough water to half fill the dish. Bake 30 minutes. Turn squash over and bake 25 minutes more, or until the squash is tender.
- Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy and has just a hint of brown color (about 3 to 4 minutes).
- Carefully add the cranberries (they may pop) to the hot syrup. Gently stir the cranberries until they are coated with the syrup, being careful not to rupture the berries. Remove the pan from the heat and cover.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and brown sugar. Cook until the onions are soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Reduce the heat to low. Add the thyme and mushrooms, cook until the mushrooms are tender (about 2 minutes). Stir in cranberries and pecans and cook 1 minute more. Set aside.
- When the squash is cooked, pour out any water remaining in the baking dish. Spoon cranberry mixture into the hollows of the squash.
- Serve the filled squash as is, or return the baking dish to the oven and bake until the squash is lightly browned (about 6 to 8 minutes).
- The hard, deeply grooved rind of acorn squash protects its sweet yellow-orange flesh. This autumn vegetable’s rind should be clean, smooth, and free of scars. The best acorn squash should feel heavy for its size. Acorn squash, like other hard-skinned squash, will stay fresh for several weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated location.
- The dark gills on the underside of the portabello mushroom may darken the filling. For the brightest filling colors, gently use a spoon to scrape away the gills. Then, slice the mushrooms to the size needed.
Per Serving: Calories 236; Total Fat 8g; Saturated Fat 2g; Cholesterol 8mg; Carbohydrate 43g; Fiber 6g; Sodium 440mg; Vitamin A 18%DV; Vitamin C 48%DV.