I generally consider myself an impartial vegetable lover. Lima beans? Brussels sprouts? I'll eat them with gusto. (We'll talk some other time about mustard greens). But if there's one wintertime vegetable that I've never really warmed to, it's the acorn squash. It's beautiful to look at, but it always strikes me as being awfully sweet. When James came home from working the market on Saturday carrying two good-sized acorn squash, I can't say that I was incredibly enthusiastic.
Puzzlingly, many of the recipes that I see for acorn squash call for an addition of brown sugar or maple syrup. If I'm eating something sweet, the last thing I want to add is anything sweeter. I was beginning to grumble when I decided to turn to my tried and true site for moments when I'm feeling like my dinner choice is looking a little...meh. Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks always manages to offer a little twist that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Unsurprisingly, her recipe for roasted corn pudding in acorn squash was exactly what I needed to give this winter veg a second (maybe a twentieth?) try. In the great tradition of sharing recipes, Heidi's recipe is borrowed from Karen Hubert Allison's The Vegetarian Compass. You can read more about both women and get the recipe for this squash on Heidi's blog.
I followed the recipe pretty nearly, except that I used frozen corn (from these guys) which I ran under warmish water to thaw.
Instead of using just anise, I ground up a tablespoon of this fennel citrus blend from The Girl and the Fig and added that instead: a combination of fennel seed, lemon peel, anise, lavender, sea salt, and thyme along with something that looks an awful lot like dried scallions.
The corn pudding was light and delicious and the smells of the scallions roasting away were enough to make this recipe a success no matter how I look at it. Like, Heidi, I had more filling than I needed and was able to fill both acorn squash with just one recipe's worth of corn pudding.
For the wobbly halves in the bunch, I shaved a small bit off the bottom to make them more stable. If you're as messy in the kitchen as I am, consider adding a piece of parchment paper to your cooking sheet. Having it there would have made clean-up much easier.
The finished product was delicious and delightful. Melted cheddar cheese and scallions sprinkled on top helped to cut back on the sweetness of the squash. Admittedly, no matter what you do to it, acorn squash will still be sweet, but this recipe offers an unexpected and delicious alternative to the maple glazes I've been stumbling upon. If you're still looking for a Thanksgiving side, you might consider this one.
Find the full recipe here.