Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta
- 2 small acorn squash (1 to 1½ lbs each)
- about 2 oz or 15 sun-dried tomatoes
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2½ cups vegetable stock
- ½ heaping tsp. salt
- ½ cup coarse-ground polenta
- 2 to 3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan
- paprika for garnish
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line sheet pan with parchment paper, and spray liberally with nonstick vegetable oil.
- Cut squashes in half crosswise, and scoop out seeds and a little extra flesh.
- Cook, face down on parchment paper, about 45 minutes, or until sharp knife easily penetrates outside skin and rim of flesh is lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl, soak tomatoes in very hot water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes. When soft, coarsely chop and set aside.
- On small sheet pan or in baking dish, toast pine nuts in oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
- In food processor, add pine nuts, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Start machine and, as blade is turning, pour olive oil through shoot. Blend into smooth paste.
- Set aside in small bowl. (Use same bowl, rinsed and dried, used for soaking tomatoes).
- Bring stock to a boil in medium to heavy saucepan. Add salt, keeping water boiling at medium-high heat.
- Add polenta gradually, either slowly from measuring cup or letting a fistful run through nearly closed fingers, constantly stirring with long-handled whisk. When all polenta is added, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook gently.
- Continue stirring, switching to long-handled wooden spoon. To avoid burning or sticking, use heat-diffusing device.
- Stir continuously and thoroughly, bringing mixture up from bottom and loosening from sides. (Make sure sides are scooped clean.)
- Continue to stir for about 20 minutes, or until polenta is creamy and pulls away from sides of pan. Turn off heat, and stir in sun-dried tomato pesto.
- Remove squash from oven. Spoon tomato mixture into squash “bowls.” Top with shredded Parmesan, dust with paprika and garnish with parsley.
For a faster dish, substitute store-bought sun-dried tomato pesto, which won’t be as fresh or as satisfying. However, making your own is easy. You can prepare the whole dish ahead, minus garnishes. Refrigerate, reheat until hot and garnish with shredded cheese, paprika and parsley. If squashes are particularly misshapen, trim ridged edges so they will stand up straight without rolling over.