Dinner #3: Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Tis the season for squash and, depending how you feel about squash, this good be a good thing or a not-so-good thing. We are mixed over here on the circle. I love velvety autumn squash soup, roasted butternut tossed into a fall inspired salad, and can even get on board with Deb Perelman’s spaghetti squash taco if it has the extra kick of cayenne pepper. A couple of weeks ago we received four lovely acorn squash in our farm-delivered Veggie Crate. One week after that, we received four more. Yikes! Did I mention that the kids aren’t huge squash fans? That said, they will devour some white beans, whatever the add-in. This time I opted for kale and tomatoes with a touch of lemon. I think you will like how the citrus juxtaposes the sweetness of the squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

4 acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
3 tblsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes with juice
6 cups chopped kale or swiss chard
1 tblsp fresh lemon juice (for extra citrus, add a tsp of lemon zest)
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the squash in half and spoon out the seeds and pith. Place them face down on the lined baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, or until a fork can easily be inserted into the skin and flesh. While they roast, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes until tender, never burnt. Add the drained beans, can of diced tomatoes and continue to saute for about 10 minutes until the beans begin to soften and can be smashed a little with the back of your spoon. Add the kale and stir to coat with bean and tomato mixture. Once it is wilted, add the lemon juice and the zest if you opted for it. Stir in the white cooking wine, increase the heat a little and reduce the wine by about half. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and fold in half of the Romano cheese. Remove from the heat.

Remove the squash and arrange them in a baking dish cut side up. Reduce the heat in your oven to 325 degrees. Fill each one with a heaping amount of the filling and top them with the rest of the cheese. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.

I serve these with a greens salad and slice of crusty bread if it is available. They reheat perfectly for lunch the next day.

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Dinner #1: Meat-a-balls

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Lily and Grandma Theresa making meatballs last summer

Mmmmmm meatballs. I am sharing this recipe today because I have modified it some since I passed it to a few friends. Please note, this is not the recipe we published in our cookbook, however that is a great one too from my Uncle Joe.

Dena’s Meatballs

1 1/2-2lbs meatloaf mix*
2lbs ground beef (no more than 90% lean)
1/3 loaf stale Italian bread, ground into fine breadcrumbs (my grocery store offers a delicious rosemary pugliese I prefer)
11 eggs lightly beaten
1 tube of wet Italian herbs**
1 1/2 cups of grated Romano cheese (a little more never hurts)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Mix gently with your hands, shape into 1-2 inch round balls and bake for 25 minutes.

*about meatloaf mix: it is usually available in the meat department; equal amounts of ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork.
**about wet herbs: these are a must-find them in the produce department in a tube. I buy this brand.

Another last minute recipe note, I really do think freshly ground breadcrumbs really make all the difference in the moistness of the meat. Dried can easily be substituted but you may want to add an extra egg or two. Also, I don’t turn my meatballs while they bake, but my mom does. She likes them to stay shapely and round. Sometimes I reserve a large handful of the meatloaf mix and roll tiny balls that I am able to freeze for soups. This recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen large meatballs and they freeze perfectly in Ziploc freezer bags. Next week I plan to post my recipe for quick pasta sauce.