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This time of year, the market is beginning to look pretty scarce. Beside brussel sprouts, green vegetables are rumoured to exist. And as much as I love turnips and beets, there are only so many one can eat before you are craving something a little more exciting. This is when the humble squash begins to shine. Abundant mid-winter, this vegetable is sweet in every sense of the word. I love the flavours of squash and curry mixed (curried butternut squash soup being one of my favourites), so when inspired last weekend to cook dinner for 8, I decided to invent a moroccan-inspired stuffed acorn squash.

The resulting entree was a delight – the nutty bulgar infused with fragrant spices complimented the sweetness of the squash flesh, with the cranberries and red pepper adding a hint of red dazzle!

To make this dish vegan, simply omit the ground chicken.

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash
(each squash serves 2)

Ingredients:
2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
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3/4 cup uncooked barley
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
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Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
Handful of carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place squashes cut side down in a glass baking dish. Bake until tender, 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, before scraping out the squash fleshing, leaving 1/2 inch thick bowls. Reserve the squash to add to the mixture

Meanwhile, bring bulgar and broth to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until all the broth has evaporated. Remove from heat, let stand, covered for five minutes.

Saute onion, garlic, and ground chicken until the vegetables are translucent and the chicken is cooked through. Add the carrots, zucchini, red pepper, and spices, and saute for five minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the spices are fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the craisins, chickpeas, parsley, bulgur and squash flesh. Sample filling, and adjust spices as desired.

Divide the filling among the squash halves, and return to oven. Bake until warmed through and the stuffing is starting to crisp, 12-15 minutes.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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