Ingredients

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Turkey Risotto 1 Acorn Squash (smallish size) ½ pound cooked Ground Turkey 1cup Arborio rice 2 tablespoons olive oil 1small onion, chopped 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced 3 cups chicken broth ½ dozen mushrooms, sliced and sautéed  3 Roma tomatoes, diced ½  zucchini, diced ½ - ¾ cup parmesan or Romano cheese Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper 4 tablespoons fresh fennel, chopped 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Cut squash in half lengthwise- take a small sliver off skinside, so the squash will sit flat on pan.  Seed the acorn squash.   3. Brush with olive oil, put flesh side down on sprayed cookie sheet. 4. Cook the acorn squash until tender approximately 45 min- one hour. Set aside for later. 5. Saute fennel in a small pan with olive oil at a low-med temperature. Fennel will start to turn translucent, add brown sugar and cook until fennel caramelizes.  Put aside for later. 6. In a dutch oven style pan, sauté olive oil with onion and garlic.  Use more or less garlic depending on your preference.  Mine is more! 7. When onion and garlic are translucent, add arborio rice cook for several minutes.  Begin to add chicken broth approximately a cup at a time, cooking and stirring with a wooden spoon until liquid evaporates.  Continue this process until all liquid has used.  The rice will still be wet- but it should be cooked. Add the cheese and stir until melted. 8. At this point, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Stuff the mixture into the acorn squash. Sprinkle with a little extra parmesan. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe courtesy of Julie Geary, Classic Cooks Catering, 2011.     
Squash is one of those foods that were first introduced to the early European settlers by the Native Americans. Acorn Squash was one of those early varieties and has remained poplar ever since. As the name suggests, its shape resembles that of an acorn. It is also good for winter storage, keeping several months in a cool dry location such as a cellar.

I really enjoy the acorn squash for several reasons. The squash works well with many different types of stuffing including and not limited to chicken, rice of all kinds, seafood and more.  It has a wonderful sweet taste, cooks easily and tastes good whether it is sweetened or not.  The acorn squash when completely cooked can be completely eaten - even the skin - which is unusual for most winter squashes.
 
Acorn squash can be stored for a long time under certain conditions. It prefers a cool, dark space and will last for weeks.  I have been informed acorn squash is one of the original squashes eaten by the Indians and new settlers to America. It grew in the wild and was far sweeter than most other winter squashes. It is a close relative to the summer squash which might help explain why its’ popularity may be because of the sweet tasting, yellow-orange flesh.
 
This recipe uses Acorn squash as the “bowl” for a ground turkey risotto stuffing. The squash is cut in half and baked upside down, then baked again right side up for a shorter time with the stuffing inside the cavity.

I particularly like the fact this recipe uses lots of abundant produce at this time of year, such as fennel, which is definitely underutilized and a wonderful addition to many dishes.  I think people shy away from fennel because it just looks funny and they may not know how to prepare it. You can use the whole plant, bulb, stalk and fern-like top. In this recipe we use the bulb and the stalk as part of the ingredients for the stuffing.

You should also not shy away from this because of the risotto. It is easier to make than you might think and only takes about twenty minutes. Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made with rice cooked with other ingredients. When buying rice to make a risotto, choose short-grained round or semi-round rice such as Arborio. Some other short-grained rices will also work. Long grained rice will not do because the grains will not combine the way a risotto should. Do not use minute rice because it will not absorb the ingredients.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
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