Apples, chestnuts, sage, and thyme make this a festive side dish that can also double as a substantial option for the vegetarian at your holiday table.
3small acorn squash, halved and seeded2tablespoons olive oilSalt and pepper, to taste2tablespoons unsalted butter1onion, finely chopped2stalks celery, finely chopped1large tart apple, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice1teaspoon dried sage1teaspoon dried thyme1cup (about 5 ounces) peeled chestnuts, quartered¼cup vegetable stock2cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. Arrange the squash in the dish, cut sides up. Brush each with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a skewer.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, apple, sage, and thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the chestnuts, stock, and breadcrumbs. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
4. Remove the squash from the oven (leave it on). Mound the filling in each cavity. Return the baking dish to the oven and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the filling is hot and the tops are golden. Total baking time is 60 to 65 minutes. Sally Pasley Vargas