Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash with White Polenta


If you were having vegetarian guests over for dinner and wanted to serve something that tastes good, looks good, and doesn’t contain objectionable ingredients like olives (gross!) or mushrooms (don’t get me started on how annoying it is that so many restaurants are run by people who think all vegetarians love mushrooms because seriously guys, they do not), I have just the main course for you. Bonus: it’s vegan!

This recipe is from the November 2000 issue of Vegetarian Times. I’ve made it before (it’s been a while — why?!) so I can tell you it’s good. The only ingredient adjustment I made is toasting the pine nuts.

Ingredients

  • 4 acorn squash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (we always use veggie broth that doesn’t contain mushrooms, obvs.)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 2/3 cups white cornmeal or grits
  • 2/3 cup + (the + means it’s always okay to add extra pine nuts) pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan over medium/high heat until just starting to brown
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cut each squash lengthwise in half (from tip to stem) and scoop out seeds and strings. Make a small slice on the back of each half so it sits flat. With pastry brush, coat squash cavities with olive oil. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over all halves. Place halves, cut side down, on prepared cookie sheet and roast until tender but still firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large, heavy saucepan, combine broth, onion, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat, then very gradually whisk in cornmeal. Whisking constantly, cook until mixture is thick, smooth, and pulls away from side of saucepan, approximately 15 minutes. Remove polenta from heat, cover, and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse pine nuts just until coarsely ground. Stir in thyme, sage, rosemary, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper.

Remove squash from oven and reduce heat to 300. Carefully flip halves over and fill each cavity with about 1/2 cup polenta and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons pine nut mixture, lightly pressing it into the polenta. Return squash to oven and bake until topping begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. Enjoy!