It has been about a month since I posted the last entry. Between entertaining guests and going on a vacation, we have derailed from the vegetarian diet for the last month. I still love meats, however, having been on a vegetarian diet since May, my body has been reacting adversely to the past month or so of meat eating. I’m not saying everyone goes through this, but I realized my body does so much better with vegetarian diet. Even though it took a while for me to update this blog (which reminds me that I do need to tend to my other blog – I don’t think I have updated that blog in almost 9 months!!), I’m excited to go back to cooking vegetarian foods!
Few days ago I bought an acorn squash out on a whim. In the past I bought butternut squash and kabocha squash, but never an acorn squash; it was a toss between an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash. So, this acorn squash sat on my kitchen counter for few days, I would stare at it, and think “ what creative way can I cook this other than bake with butter and sugar?” Well, I still made it sweet, but I saw this recipe where they stuff couscous in an acorn squash. I revised this recipe by adding more vegetables, and instead of using traditional couscous, I added Israeli couscous (which is about the size of a barley – something like pearly pasta or acini de pepe). I tried my best to approximate the measurements, but use it only as a guide and adjust the taste to your liking.
2 medium sized acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Arrange the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Dissolve the sugar and the cinnamon in the melted butter. Brush squash with the butter mixture, and keep squash warm while preparing the stuffing.
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sweet potatoes, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 – 2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1-1/2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous (regular couscous is fine too)
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onions and sauté for few minutes until onions become translucent. Add the cumin and mix it well with the garlic mixture, cook for few minutes. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchinis, beans and raisins cook for additional few minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock (add more if you need to), close the lid and let it simmer for about 5-8 minutes.
Add 1-1/2 cups of vegetable stock and the couscous, stir to make sure they are all blended in. Add salt and pepper to taste, close the lid and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Keep the lid closed and let it sit for 10 minutes. You can check at this point to see if you need to add more vegetable stock (if the mixture is too dry).
When ready to eat, stuff the squash halves with couscous mixture.
My opinion: I was pleasantly surprised by this combination. The sweetness of squash reminded me so much of the Fall, the taste of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon with rich, smoothness of the squash. Then, you have this almost Middle Eastern taste of couscous and veggies! Never thought this combination would work. Even my children loved this dish, they wanted to take this for their school lunch tomorrow!
Note: I bought my Israeli couscous at Trader Joe’s. I’m sure you can get this at Whole Foods Market. Most of the vegetables I added were bought at the Farmer’s Market – does feel good to use seasonal veggies! I especially liked the taste and texture of sweet potatoes in this dish!