October! I love October on our farm. The days start out crisp and cool, and the afternoon sun brings just enough warmth that we still work up a sweat while out in the fields. Even though the days are quite a bit shorter now, we still have a lot of work to do. It's harvest time, which means we are busy storing all of our hardier crops like winter squash, potatoes and root veggies for the winter.
One of my favorite winter vegetables to grow is acorn squash. It's sweet, but not too sweet, and cooks up well in savory dishes as well as desserts. Despite how back-breaking the harvest can be (these guys can get heavy when you grow thousands of them!) it only takes one bite of sweet squash to ease all of the aches and pains. It's all worth it in the end. If you are considering growing winter squash in your garden next season, I highly recommend it if you don't grow it already.
Start planning now so you can sow your seeds next spring after the last frost has passed. Winter squash prefers warm temperatures with fertile, well-drained soil. It needs plenty of water and sun and, depending on your climate, you'll need to grow varieties that do well in your area. I always recommend checking with local farmers or gardeners before purchasing seeds. Once your squash is ready for harvest you can whip up simple meals like these mushroom and chickpea-stuffed acorn squash. Food like this makes me so happy for autumn I can hardly contain myself.
- 2 medium acorn squash sliced in half and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon salt plus extra for seasoning the filling
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus extra for seasoning the filling
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 cups mixed mushrooms roughly chopped
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ tablespoons low-sodium tamari
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage cut into strips
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the cut sides of the squash halves and sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until fork tender, 35-45 minutes (time will vary depending on the size of your squash).
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and the liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, tamari and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the squash from the oven and switch your oven to the broil setting. Divide the chickpea mixture between the squash halves and drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place under the broiler until golden, about 2 minutes. Divide the fresh sage onto each squash half and serve.