What was I to do? I'd already bought all the ingredients, and I was cooking dinner that night! In a panic, I called my mom.
"They don't have any more eggplant! Help!"
"I'm a little busy, but...Eggplant? For what?"
A brief and anxious explanation ensued. "Well, what do they have?" A cursory description of the produce within eyesight.
"Acorn squash," she decided on my behalf. "You can get it and experiment with what you have." A sigh of relief--parent to the rescue, problem solved; although as I biked back to our house after a class on dragon-slaying, the bag of squash swinging heavily from my handlebars, I realized I was going to have to make it up.
I stood in our kitchen and thought.
What about baking them and then stuffing them? After scrounging around in the cupboards and fridge, I came up with some frozen corn, an onion, rice left over from another meal, and the ends from an assortment of cheeses--and, of course, the breadcrumbs I'd bought in preparation for the eggplant parmesan.
After laying everything out, it suddenly seemed almost too easy. I pre-heated the oven, then cut the squash in half (and also cut a small piece off of the bottoms and tops, so I could stand them upright later). A little butter and olive oil, and into the oven they went, cut side down. There wasn't a lot left to think about--I diced up the onion along with some garlic, sautéed them until tender in a large skillet with a little butter, and then added the de-frosted corn kernels and cooked rice, mixing everything together to integrate it and heat it through.
After 35 to 45 minutes the squash seemed soft enough to scoop without falling apart. I let it cool for a minute, and then scraped out all the flesh, putting it into a large bowl along with the onion/corn/rice mixture. I stirred everything together, adding salt and pepper to taste. Back into the scooped out shells the mixture went, and at the last minute I decided to mix together the bread crumbs (panko, actually, in this case), some grated extra sharp cheddar, and a little pecorino to sprinkle on top, the way my mom does when she makes macaroni and cheese at home. On the baking sheet and back in the oven for a little longer, until the cheese had melted and the top was beginning to brown.
Putting the filling back in the halved squash shells makes a very pretty presentation--the finished product got a chorus of "cute"s and "how pretty"s from my housemates--and I served a salad on the side. For something I was expecting to turn out bland and mushy, the crispy top melded well with the gooey, savory-sweet interior. All-in-all, a warming and filling meal--a wonderful, autumnal comfort-food sort of recipe, ready to be made with whatever might be lying around your kitchen.
Recipe: Stuffed Acorn Squash