Sunday, January 31, 2016

Acorn Squash stuffed with Chard, Refried Beans (Almost No Added Fat)

Today, I picked up three small acorn squashes and, though my daughter isn't fond of squash, thought I'd cook them especially for my Dad, who likes soft food and has requested squash. It's so easy with my Instant Pot pressure cooker to prepare squash using a technique by my friend Lani Muelrath that I described last February.

She puts a trivet (to keep the food from touching the pot) into the Instant Pot, rinses an intact acorn or butternut squash, puts in a cup and a half of water (I think that I put even less in; it shouldn't be so much as to get over the level of the trivet), and pressure steams for 8 minutes. The squash can then be sliced very easily, seeded, and served. I was thinking of going with 7 minutes since my squashes were small, but I stuck with 8 minutes to ensure a soft end product for my Dad.

I also found a nice sale on frozen chopped chard. Why not stuff the squash with the chard? Here is what I did.

  • Acorn squash (I used three), intact and just rinsed
  • 1 or 1 1/4 cups water
  • Another 1/4 cup water
  • 10 ounce frozen (or fresh) chopped Swiss chard
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1T peanut butter (peanut butter has a whopping 17g of fat per tablespoon, but my 1T was spread amongst about 6 servings, so less than 3g of fat per serving)
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped into 1/4" cubes (a small onion)
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Juice of a tangerine (about an ounce)
  1. I prepared acorn squash in the Instant Pot as described above.
  2. In the meantime, I put the 1/4 cup of water and bouillon cube in a small stock pan, brought to a boil, then added the chard, peanut butter (I normally cook with no added fat, but thought that a little bit of the peanut butter would add an interesting dimension of flavor - and, as noted above, this amounted to just 3g or so of fat per serving), onion, nutritional yeast, and salt, and simmered for 7-9 minutes uncovered (the package suggested simmering covered, but I wanted to thicken the greens a bit), stirring occasionally.
  3. I sampled and liked the greens, but wanted to add a slightly sweet nuanced flavor, so mixed in the tangerine juice
  4. I served the greens within the hollowed out squash cavities
I also cooked some no-fat "refried" beans, mixing in a little bell pepper and, for the adults, jalapeno pepper.


I was surprised! I liked dinner but wasn't enthusiastic about any of the flavors. The greens benefited, I think, from the peanut butter and tangerine. It was all good but I didn't love the meal. However, everybody else seemed to enjoy it more than I did! I was particularly surprised by my daughter who has said that she doesn't like squash - for the first time in a while, she quickly ate everything on her plate, and praised the meal numerous times. Yay!

Ideas for the future

I'll bet this would be even better with additional touches of flavor, such as capers or olives or possibly dill pickle pieces, and/or raw kale pieces. I wonder what a thick dhal would be like served inside a halved squash.

By the way, I'm a citrus fiend and loving the winter citrus crop. On a public radio program today, somebody called in from Arizona with the "problem" of having tangerine trees that all ripen at the same time and yield 4 or 5 bushels at once. The host had a number of suggestions, such as:

  • removing seeds then freezing, and then blending to make a sorbet, possibly with a bit of lime and (vegan) cream
  • making savory salsas
  • cooking a number of savory dishes
  • using the (organic) rinds in any variety of dishes
I definitely need to explore some citrus cooking!

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