Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chorizo, Rice & Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

In the past few days, I've put my crock-pot to hard work and snarfed down some seriously tasty slow-cooked meals. First was shredded chicken breasts with salsa, black beans and green chiles and second was pulled pork (carnitas) made from pork shoulder that was on sale for only 99 cents a pound. Needless to say, I've been feasting on tacos and rice for several meals (and days) in a row.

Unfortunately, my cooking/eating habits are not up to speed with my posts, so the carnitas will have to wait. Instead, I'd like to share a stellar recipe for chorizo stuffed acorn squash. It's soooo good that I couldn't keep it to myself. I've made it for dinner four times in the last few weeks. Although I've tweaked the ingredients nearly every time, I can't take credit for creating it.
I discovered the recipe while googling for acorn squash techniques (it was my first time using this squash variety), realized I had chorizo in my fridge and decided to go for it. The originator is a lovely Navy Nurse named Jordyn and her blog is called Butter Than Toast. You should definitely visit her site. She takes beautiful food porn pictures and her recipes are (in her words) "no fuss-no muss", not to mention man-friendly! 

I can personally attest to this, as my boyfriend disdains squash of any sort and ate most of his half when I cooked this recipe. The key is to use a small squash so the ratio of squash to meat/filling is 1:2. This way, the meat overpowers the taste of the veggies. I'm tricksy like that. Of course, if you're not cooking for a meat lovin', picky about veggies person, go for larger squashes. 

Hell, I've made this twice just for myself and eaten both halves. You should know that 1) I love veggies. 2) If you're a picky veggie eater, you're totally missing out. 3) Winter squash is great for you. It's high in fiber, low in calories and full of nutrients like potassium, b-vitamins, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Find out more here

If you don't have chorizo on hand—no worries. Stuff the baked squash with whatever meat, beans, rice, grain, veggies, etc. you have on hand. I especially like the spanish rice/black bean/onion/chorizo combo, but also tried lentils instead of rice and it was fabulous. If you're vegetarian, or looking for a low-carb alternative, lentils are cheap, filling and healthy! 

Oh, and the carnitas (pulled pork) I made last night? I cannot wait to use some of the leftovers in this recipe. ::swoon:: Carnitas make everything taste better! 
That said, if you're a meat-eater you should really try chorizo. Buy it fresh from your local natural foods market, if possible. The stuff I've seen at my regular grocery store was sold in a tube and looked really sketch. It may depend on the region, but most Whole Foods I've ventured into make their own.

Chorizo, Rice & Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash
Fiber and nutrient dense acorn squash is seasoned and baked, stuffed with a mixture of savory ground chorizo, spanish rice, onions and black beans, then topped with a melty layer of pepper-jack cheese
Slightly Adapted from Butter Than Toast's Southwestern Style Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves: 1-2

1 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and deseeded
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, divided
--I recommend this brand since it passed the EVOO Test--
1/2 a yellow or sweet onion, diced
Sea salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper, to taste
(I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt)
1/2 lb of ground chorizo sausage
1 cup of homemade black beans (get my recipe here)
1 cup of cooked rice (use homemade stock to make it extra tasty)
2 slices of pepper-jack cheese or 1/2 cup of shredded Mexican blend cheese

Recommended Equipment
large rimmed baking sheet
cast-iron skillet

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds & guts (not the flesh). Rub the exposed squash halves with the 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil then season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Place both halves face down on a baking sheet and wrap tightly with foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash. 

While that's cooking, pour the other 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil in a cast-iron pan set to medium/medium-high. Peel and dice the onion,  then add to hot pan and sauté for 5 minutes or so. Add the ground chorizo and stir, breaking it into small pieces until it's cooked through (no pink). Pour the beans and rice into the pan, mix everything and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Once the squash halves and mixtures are both cooked, scoop a heaping portion of the filling into each half then top with cheese. Place back in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 

Notes & Tips
You can save the seeds and roast them in the oven. They're great for snacks or salad toppers. I have yet to do this, but it's a great way to make the most out of what you have.

The chorizo is already heavily seasoned and rather salty (another reason why it's so great), so be cautious when seasoning the filling mixture. 

If you have leftover filling—don't despair! Eat it with tortilla chips or throw it into your scrambled eggs the next morning. It's super tasty the next day (if it lasts). 

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite mixture to use in stuffed vegetable dishes?

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