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Making a switch to fall fare, in this case acorn squash

I was sitting outside last evening and lo and behold I had to put on a sweater. A sweater! Yes, as we flip the calendar over to September it suddenly is getting cooler and thoughts of fall are on our minds.

One weekend I had the opportunity to cook for a dancing workshop in which the organizers were vegetarians so therefore all of the meals had to be prepared accordingly.

I do like to eat bacon daily if possible, but set about this task to the best of my ability.

The ultimate compliment I had was a guest asking if I was a vegetarian – I guess the vegetarian cuisine was so good that I must have been!

That being said, we’re  going to put together an amazing vegetarian dish using some late-summer/early-fall ingredients such as acorn squash.

One could prepare this with other squash but a half acorn is the perfect shape and portion size for one person, and already has a hole in the middle ready to fill with whatever your heart desires.

For this dish, we’re going to use an “ancient grain” call farro.

Ancient does not mean that it has been sitting around in the cupboard for ages, but that it has actually been cultivated since around 5,000BC – wow, that’s a long time ago!

It is a type of hulled wheat, meaning that it cannot be threshed.

One type used a lot in Italian cuisine is called “spelt” which is spelled S-P-E-L-T and is what we’re using for this recipe.

Try using smaller to medium-sized squash that are nicely shaped for the presentation. If you find they are a little tippy then instead of trying to hold them upright with your hands while in the oven, simply trim a little off the bottom to even them out.

Farro and Cherry-stuffed Acorn Squash

Recipe by Chef Duff

We’re  going to put together an amazing vegetarian dish using some late-summer/early-fall ingredients such as acorn squash.

One could prepare this with other squash but a half acorn is the perfect shape and portion size for one person, and already has a hole in the middle ready to fill with whatever your heart desires.

Ingredients

  • 4 acorn squash (about 1 lb/450 g each), halved lengthwise and seeded

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 tsp. roasted garlic

  • 1 lb Italian farro precooked spelt

  • 2L water

  • 1/2 cup dried Montmorency cherries, whole

  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup unsalted natural walnuts, chopped

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F . Arrange squash, cut sides up, on parchment paper-lined large baking sheet. Brush cut sides with 3 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle with garlic seasoning, dividing evenly. Bake until tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Stir in farro; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook 10 minutes, adding cherries in last 5 minutes of cook time. Drain. Set aside.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, walnuts and sage; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and farro mixture until well combined.
  • Spoon farro mixture into squash halves, dividing evenly and mounding in centers. Sprinkle with cheese, dividing evenly. Bake in 450°F oven until heated through and cheese is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
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