Roasted Acorn Squash in Mediterranean Tomato Sauce

Greetings from the glorious suburbs of Vancouver! If you missed my last post, I mentioned that our foray to the Okanagan has been cut unexpectedly short (due to circumstances at my SO’s work) and we’ve had to return to the Lower Mainland indefinitely. It’s too bad, as we were keen to stay in the Okanagan long term and eventually buy a house there, but I suppose it just wasn’t in the cards for us yet. In some ways I’m actually glad to be back: there’s a greater variety of vegetarian-friendly restaurants here (yep, always thinking about food!); I can visit regularly with my friends again; and with more stuff around to do maybe I’ll feel inspired to change out of my pajamas on a more regular basis!

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Yesterday afternoon I got some welcome news: we’re going to be able to move out of the RV and into an actual house in less than one month’s time! We’ve been living in the RV for over 6 months now, so hearing we only have to persevere at the trailer park for another few weeks is music to my ears. I’m being dramatic of course; it’s not THAT bad here. Really I have all I could ever need – except space (and my shoe collection). But I can’t say I’ll miss it that much, either.

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I’ve stated repeatedly in previous posts how relieved I was to be away from the gloomy, wet drizzle that keeps Vancouver captive in the Winter – and now I’m right back in the thick of it! Figures! But rather than dwell on this unsavoury fact, I cooked myself something warm and spicy to ease the pain. For weeks I’d had a hankering for Mediterranean flavours – capers, olives, tomatoes, artichokes – and on that front this recipe fully delivers! Simmered gently in a spicy tomato sauce, the roasted acorn squash provides a subtly-sweet counterpoint to the salty pungency of the other ingredients. After a few mouthfuls I didn’t give the dampness outside a second thought.

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It’s up to you how you serve this dish. My initial plan was to spoon it over grilled polenta – but clearly my polenta-grilling skills need some serious honing, as what I produced weren’t the tidy, firm wedges of polenta I’d envisioned, but rather a mushy and amorphous mess! The end result tasted good – but looks-wise it was fit for the dog bowl; I didn’t even consider taking pictures of it to post here. Maybe you have more polenta know-how than me and can successfully grill yourself a few pretty wedges of the stuff; if not, you could opt to serve this dish alone as a side, on top of crusty bread as an appetizer, or do as I did with the leftovers, which was toss it with pasta and a drizzle of olive oil. Yum!

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Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash in Mediterranean Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 5 marinated sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 398ml can diced tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place squash halves skin-side down on baking sheet and drizzle each half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a bit of salt. Roast squash in oven for 50 minutes or until flesh is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside to cool (or put in fridge to speed up the process). Once cool enough to handle, scoop flesh from skin and chop into 1 inch cubes.

Finish sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute just until garlic is fragrant and golden brown. Fold in capers, sun dried tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts. Add diced tomatoes, cubed squash and thyme and stir until everything is combined. Let sauce simmer, partially covered, for at least 20 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, add a bit of water. Taste and correct with salt and if necessary. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Serving ideas: Spoon over grilled polenta wedges; toss with pasta and a bit of olive oil; serve alone as a side dish; serve on crusty bread as an appetizer.

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