Acorn Squash and Roasted Garlic Custard

I grew up eating acorn squash for dessert in the fall months.  My mom would roast the halves with brown sugar, salt and butter.  There are so many ways to serve it.  Martha Stewart has a great Acorn Squash Guide with over a dozen possibilities.

This is a savory dish with a touch of sweetness from both the brown sugar and the squash itself.  You might be concerned about the starch content in sweet vegetables like squash.  But nutritionists have found that while they contain carbohydrates, they are packed full of important nutrients like Vitamin A and C, also contain manganese and a significant amount of fiber.  Our bodies also process them differently, and in addition to providing anti-oxidants, they also have anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.  See the World’s Heathiest Food’s Page on Winter Squash.  WHFoods also highly recommends buying squash organic, since soil contaminants are more easily transfered to squash.  These ones are from Eastern Carolina Organics located in Pittsboro, NC.

This recipe is dead simple but you have to allow for roasting time.  I hacked them in half and stuck them in the oven to roast before I even unloaded my groceries.  Used an ice cream scoop to clean out the seeds.  A pastry brush to season them with oil.  You plop down the cloves of garlic (unpeeled) on the same baking sheet and put them in to bake.  Then you multitask.  And start washing a week’s build-up of dishes if you are me.

I was on the fence about this recipe, but tried it because it’s different.  I think I’m expecting sweetness since I’ve always eaten acorn squash sweet.  So definitely open your mind if you’re going to try it.  I may just come back to this and turn the custard into a maple one.

However, the day after, when I ate the leftovers for lunch, I realized that these are delicious the day after you make them — perhaps the garlic has more time to combine with the custard.  Liberal salt and freshly ground pepper also highlight the flavors.

Acorn Squash and Roasted Garlic Custard

(Adapted from Sharon’s Recipe at Food.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 small acorn squash (these ones fit in the palm of my hand)
  • safflower oil for brushing
  • salt
  • grated black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peel left on
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

To roast the squash and garlic:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half, long-wise so that you will be cutting the stem in half.
  3. Scoop out seeds and clean out stringy insides.  An ice cream scoop is perfect for this step.
  4. Brush both inside and outside with oil.  Brush garlic cloves with oil as well.
  5. Place squash halves inside-up on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  6. Sprinkle inside halves with salt, pepper and just a pinch of brown sugar.
  7. Place garlic cloves on sheet with squash.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make the custard filling:

  1. Once the garlic cloves are cool to the touch, place them and the half and half in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour milk into a sauce-pan and stir-in the half and half and garlic mixture, as well as the nutmeg.  Stir to combine.
  3. Season milk with salt and heat over low heat until milk is steaming but not boiling.  Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk together egg and egg yolk in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk small amounts of hot milk into eggs until completely combined.
  6. Place pre-roasted acorn squash halves into a roasting pan with 1/4 cup water on the bottom.
  7. Spoon egg-custard mixture into each of the halves.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F for another 25- 30 minutes until the custard fillings have set.
  9. Sprinkle with salt  and freshly ground pepper.  Top with a dollop of butter.

Note: These tasted even better the next day, reheated.  I microwaved mine, which didn’t seem to effect the texture.  If you warm them in the oven, be sure to cover them with foil and bake at 350 degrees until center is warm.

Season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.

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