The incredible, edible.... acorn squash?
My roommate approached me last night with an interesting query: "How can I make a 5-course meal using acorn squash as a main ingredient in each course?"
As a preface to this question, my roommate is a first-year architecture grad student at the University of Minnesota. One of his first projects was to study the acorn squash and do various things with it - draw it, build a model using it, and now to cook with it.
I think it's an interesting challenge and really does mirror architecture in a lot of ways. That being said, he has to prepare 5 courses, each using the acorn squash, and present them to his class along with some sort of documentation of the cooking/tasting process (pictures, notes, etc.).
I know I can rely on my fellow Hounds for help with this one! Any brilliant ideas about the acorn squash? Anything terribly complicated would likely be thrown out the window since he has to prepare 5 courses. The finally project is due Monday.
Have at is! :)
2. Squash-filled pasta (pumpkin ravolis served in chicken broth over fresh sage leaves is molto tradizionale in Emilia-Romagna)
3. Poultry or pork (chops, rolled loin, braciole) stuffed, including squash.
4. Salad with roasted fall vegetables, including squash
5. Squash pie (a old New England favorite)
And none of this are simple baked acorn squash!
I hope that your roommate does well and that she does not rely too heavily on outside help for the project.
Given that this is an architectural class, I think it would be important to consider the shape and structure of the squash. Size and scale are also worth a ponder. At our local farm markets we enjoy a variety of differently sized acorn squash, some with solid green skins and others with a white speckled appearance.
Using the shells in the presentation may be worth considering. I frequenly make stuffed acrorn squash with ground veal, apples, onion, sage, currants and so on. That would make a predictable, but tasty main. Perhaps she can find very small squash and rather than halving them horizontally she could take a slice off of the pointy end for balance then cut of the stem end and hollow the squash vertically. A ring from another squash would be useful in stabilizing the dish. Better still deep fried rings from another squash could provide stabilization as well as a contrasting texture.
For dessert, she could adapt any of the many pumpkin dessert recipes: creme brulee, ice cream, cake, or a pretty cupcake would work nicely.
I expect that she'll want to begin with soup and use some roast squash in a creative salad made perhaps with quinoa or another whole grain. I also think that a savory flan could be very interesting.
Hope that helps -
Deep fried thin strands of squash could add height in the design of a dish, or could become a nest for a filling.
I agree that I hope he doesn't rely to heavily on outside help to complete this project. He's reatively savvy in the kitchen so already had some ideas in mind but I figured the extra inspiration couldn't hurt.
Ultimately, he'll be putting all of his dishes together himself so the help really stops at just giving him some ideas. The rest is up to him!
If he roasts or steams the squash in advance and makes a puree, it could be even easier to add to some dishes such as savory breads or biscuits, risottos, soft polenta and soups. Maybe he could make 4 of his courses in advance and demonstrate only one in class for dramatic impact. For a dessert I like the squash pie idea and would add a rice pudding with squash puree sweetened with maple syrup.