Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash

stuffedsquash2.jpgIt's already in full swing. Thanksgiving turkey mania. You know what I'm talking about. The endless, frenzied debate over how to cook the perfect turkey. With all the food magazines, cooking shows and turkey hotlines available, I know you'll find more information than you ever wanted on the bird. That's why I'm posting about Thanksgiving side dishes: They're much less controversial. You can't brine sweet potatoes or deep fry cranberry sauce. At least, I don't think you can.

Last year I shared four Thanksgiving side dishes with a twist: Perennial favorites like sweet potatoes and string beans got a makeover. They looked fabulous. But we can't make the same veggies this year. Well, except for the String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Lemon. I have to make those again. Don't worry though. I've got a few new ones for you that won't disappoint.

Let's start with Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash. A robustly sweet and tangy filling of shallots, cranberries, prunes and pecans is nestled inside of a hot roasted acorn squash half.

If you've just wrinkled your nose at the word "prunes," trust me, they're the ideal foil to tart cranberries. But if you just can't abide the thought of them, swap them for sweet Medjool dates. Everyone loves Medjool dates

Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4 or 8 if you slice each half in two

2 acorn squash
olive oil for brushing flesh
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, unthawed cranberries
1/4 cup chopped prunes or soft dates, such as Medjool dates
4 tablespoons dry white wine
6 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush flesh with a bit of olive oil and place flesh side down on prepared baking sheet. Cook 35-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add shallots and saute 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add cranberries, prunes, wine, water, salt and black pepper. Cook until cranberries pop and the sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Divide filling equally among the four squash halves. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and serve hot.


Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of  Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.