Another acorn squash ripened last week, and though it was tempting to roast it and freeze it for baby food or another winter-squash soufflé, I knew I had enough on hand to turn it into a light meal on its own. Any whole grains would work here—barley, farro, rye berries, etc.—but you may need to add a little more liquid, as oat groats are on the quicker end of the whole-grain cooking scale. Likewise, other greens (chard, spinach, et al.) can be substituted for the kale. I’m not a huge fan of acorn squash (yes, yes, I know I’m growing it; it came out of a “harvest variety” packet of squash seeds, so I kind of got blindsided), but this dish really brings out its sweetness, and roasting really improves the texture. In fact, I fully anticipated to be either studiously avoiding or resignedly picking at the squash chunks in my bowl, but they ended up being my favorite part.
As below, it makes 2 servings.
• 1 small acorn squash, peeled*, de-seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (garden): $0
• 1/2 bunch kale or other greens, de-stemmed, leaves torn: 80 cents
• 3/4 cup oat groats (or other whole grains): 40 cents
• 1/4 cup dry white wine (ordinarily I’d substitute chicken broth for the wine, but this was such a simple dish I figured it would benefit from the flavor): 50 cents
• 1 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth: 10 cents
• 1/2 an onion, chopped: 20 cents
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped (garden): $0
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan: 50 cents
• 2 T oil: 12 cents
• Salt & pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $2.64/2 = $1.32/serving
*There’s really no quick and easy way to do this, but the best way I’ve found is to cut it along the grooves into wedges, kind of like a melon, and just carve the rind off that way.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Toss the squash chunks with a little bit of olive oil and spread on a lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 30-35 minutes, turning the pieces over once or twice to prevent burning.
When the squash is done, increase oven heat to 400 F.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a heavy, oven-proof pot with a lid. Add the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the oat groats and cook for another couple of minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine, stirring until almost totally absorbed. Add the chicken or vegetable broth (a little more if you’re using another kind of grain), bring to a boil, cover, and put in the oven. Check after 25 minutes to see if the grains are tender (yet still slightly chewy) or need more liquid.
Meanwhile, put a pot of salted water on to boil. Once boiling, add the kale and stir for a minute or two until just wilted. Drain, then rinse well under cold water. Wring the water out of the kale and set aside.
When the grains are done and the liquid has been absorbed, remove from the oven and stir in the kale, squash, and about half the cheese. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.