Real Food. Real Stories. Oh Yeah.

Posts tagged ‘apple’

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Autumn’s just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a medley of apples and acorn squash?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve always been partial to winter squashes. They last longer than their summer counterparts, and overall taste better! The texture, the dishes, the scent, the warmth … winter squashes just have it all. So I was very excited to see winter squashes return to the farmers market, especially my beloved acorn squash.

God help us if the squirrels in "Mutts" ever catch wind of these

One of my favorite meals is to cut an acorn squash in half, bake it, and either eat it on its own or stuffed with a grain mixture. With a slight chill in the air and a lot of rain this week, I decided to whip up a stuffed acorn squash packed with one of my favorite grain dishes, Israeli Couscous with Tart Apple and Sage. Israeli couscous (also called Pearled Couscous) is a thicker couscous that’s more like a pasta, and it’s very delicious. Definitely add it to your grocery cart in the future, not just for this dish, but for other kitchen experiments!

See, not like standard couscous (also featuring a cameo from your author!)

The acorn squash takes the longest to bake, so I recommend starting with this first. Fortunately it’s also the lowest maintenance portion of the meal (and the whole meal is pretty easy). First, I started by melting about a tablespoon of Earth Balance margarine in a saucepan and pouring it into a small bowl. I then cut the acorn squash into two equal halves, using a spoon to scrape out the seeds and excess strands of pulp from the center. I also recommend cutting off a small portion of the top of the squash, as flattening the squash this way will make it easier to eat out of once it’s done. The pointy end gave me many a headache in Autumns past as it would make the squash wobble in my bowl while I tried to eat it, so giving the squash a flat base before baking will make life much easier!

Carving out the seeds and pulp is also good practice for pumpkin carving next month!

Once the squash “bowl” was ready, I prepped it for baking by brushing it with the melted butter, than sprinkling on some cinnamon, cardamom (optional), salt, and pepper. All of these spices are optional, really; but I highly recommend at least the cinnamon, salt, and pepper since they really enhance the flavor of this semi-sweet squash. I then placed the squash face down on a baking sheet, and baked at 375 F for about 30 minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on your squash, but I usually have a soft, tender squash after half an hour.

Mmmm

This gives you ample time to prepare your Israeli couscous stuffing. To start, I first simmered some Israeli couscous in vegetable broth for about 10 minutes. While the couscous simmered, I prepped my other ingredients and started to cook them. I heated a little extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, then added some heavily minced onion (I actually chopped the onion in a blender because I wanted it to cook away into nothing;  this is just a personal preference, since I don’t like onion pieces). After cooking for a couple minutes, I added my minced apple and cooked for a few minutes more, until the apple pieces softened slightly, the peel changed color, and the apple became fragrant. The recipe calls for a tart apple, but I used a Gala apple and still had success. I also left out the red pepper called for in the recipe, simply because I don’t like peppers.

Once the apples were cooked through a bit, I added some ground sage and chopped walnuts. You don’t have to cook these long; just until the walnuts become fragrant. I then turned off the heat, drained my couscous, and added it to the apple mixture, stirring so that the apple and walnuts appeared well-dispersed throughout the couscous. I then added the finishing touch: more olive oil, lemon juice (2 TB of prepared lemon juice is the equivalent to the 1 lemon called for in the recipe), and salt. Once stirred, I set it aside and let it sit while I removed my squash from the oven.

This is also an amazing side dish

The rest is cake from here. I took my acorn squash from the oven and placed it face-up in a bowl, so that the core of the squash was visible. I then spooned the Israeli couscous mixture into the core until full. Voila! An easy, seasonal meal that looks a lot more time-consuming than it really is. Dig in!

Advertisements

Once More on the Go: The Assateague Crab House

Last week I was on a mini-summer vacation in beautiful Ocean City, MD. I’d never been to this beach, but I definitely want to go back, especially to Assateague Island!

In addition to sun and sand, one of the first things that often come to mind when one thinks of the beach is seafood – lots and lots of seafood! Being a vegetarian, though, I do not partake of this beachside staple (so please folks, stop offering me fish when I say I’m a vegetarian). What’s a vegetarian to do when she’s in seafood utopia, especially in an area well-known for crabs? Let’s find out!

Beautiful beach on Assateague Island. In addition to food photos, you're going to get some beach shots in this post

When one is vacationing in Maryland, especially near the Chesapeake Bay, one can expect to see and hear about crabs wherever you go. I must’ve driven by at least twenty roadside stands that said they had the best crabs in the area. While I support local food and roadside farmer’s markets, I wasn’t going to be partaking in this particular delicacy (even when I ate meat, I wasn’t the biggest fan of crab – or any seafood, really). But especially since I was traveling with two omnivores, I knew a crab shack was in my future. We ended up choosing The Assateague Crab House, a small restaurant located just outside of Assateague Island.

Whatever your position on crab/seafood, I think we can all agree that the decor of this place is pretty damn awesome

Naturally, the menu consisted largely of seafood; however, there were vegetarian options to be found amongst the side dishes, many of which can be made into a meal! Your best bet, especially if you’re a vegan, would likely be the baked potato. It’s considered a side and only costs $2. Unfortunately though it’s only available after 4 PM; so you might need to be a little more creative for lunch. Their sides also include apple sauce and an ear of corn, also about $2 each. The ear of corn I had with my meal was very tasty and, I’m certain, local; since the only thing I saw more of than signs for crab were corn fields. It also tasted like it was just picked; and it wasn’t drowning in butter or salt, which was good (I like a taste of seasonings, not an avalanche).

Assateague Crab House also offers some veg-friendly appetizers. We ordered a basket of broccoli bites for the table, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I was expecting nugget balls of pureed broccoli and possibly cheese, but what we got was whole pieces of broccoli fried in batter, almost like the South’s answer to tempura; or perhaps a hush puppy with broccoli inside. While still not the healthiest thing in the world, it was very tasty and I could tell that the broccoli was fresh before it met the fryer. If you want something kinda greasy and very good, give them a try!

They taste great on their own, but if you're not a vegan, they also come with ranch dip on the side

For my main entree I had a simple grilled cheese sandwich. As a note, a grilled cheese is NOT on their menu – they were kind enough to make one for me when I asked. So, it might be worth asking them to make a vegetable sandwich or other vegan/vegetarian sandwich if you go – they’re very accommodating! It can never hurt to at least ask!

So vegetarians, when you are in seafood country, fear not – you can definitely get some tasty vegetables and have a delicious meal, even if you go to a crab shack! I definitely recommend Assateague Crab House if you’re in Ocean City. It’s a nice place to stop for food before visiting the beach, trails, and wild ponies on Assateague Island!

Yup, wild ponies! Why aren't you packing your bags for Assateague right now?