The shortened days, the sidewalks and lawns now festooned with fallen leaves, and the persistent chill in the air—all of these things signal a reminder of what we’d all rather forget: that summer is officially over, and winter is steadily approaching. But fall can have its rewards, and festive comfort food is one of them.
This recipe makes use of two cheap seasonal ingredients: squash and apples. The two are sweetened and spiced to produce a flavor reminiscent of Thanksgiving pies and roasted until warm and comforting.
I like this recipe a lot. It’s a tasty dessert that’ll cheer you up on a cold evening, and give you two servings of vegetables and one of fruit in the process. Not bad!
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Spiced Apples
2 Acorn squashes
2 medium apples
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup sugar or sweetener
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP chopped crystallized ginger
½ tbsp maple syrup (optional)
up to a tbsp margarine or oil for richness (optional, I usually omit)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and place the squash on it cut side down. Bake for 30 minutes.
A few minutes before the time is up, chop the apples into ½ inch dice, peeling if desired, and toss immediately with lemon juice to prevent browning. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
When the 30 minutes are up, take the squash out of the oven and carefully flip them over. Spoon the apple mixture into the squash cavities, distributing it evenly between the four halves, and being sure not to waste any of the juices left in the mixing bowl. Cover the dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes more until both the squash and the apples are fork tender.
Let cool enough to be safe (the juices can be pretty hot), but serve warm.
Each squash half makes one fairly generous serving.
Pears work just as well as apples. You may want to decrease the sweetener and cooking time, though.
Different types of squash and pumpkin work okay too. If the type you choose isn’t sized for individual serving, you can bring the whole thing to the table and let people scoop out their own servings.
You can change the spices and flavorings, of course. You can simplify them, or make them stronger. Anise would be an interesting touch, and lemon zest would add a bright zing.
Adding some dried fruit and nuts would give a mincemeat-like effect.
You could add a crunchy streusel topping to dress up the dessert and make it richer.