Like any food enthusiast, I binge-watched Netflix's "Chef's Table" in just a few days. Amid the nonstop gustatory stimulation, there was one dish that stood out to me, but not because it was one of the many mind-blowingly inventive dishes featured; it stood out for being distinctly familiar and undaunting. While I would never in my right mind dare to replicate Massimo Bottura's signature lasagna dish, which very unconventionally emphasizes just the burned crispy edges of grandma's traditional recipe, I saw a dish featured in Chef Francis Mallmann's episode that made me perk up and think, "That looks relatively achievable!"
For those who haven't seen the episode (if you're even vaguely interested in food, then what are you waiting for?), Chef Mallmann is an Argentine chef known for his Patagonian methods of grilling and his vaguely polyamorous lifestyle. Mallmann specializes in cooking with just cast-iron and an open fire, a simple and back-to-the-earth technique that can be used for a vast variety of dishes, from whole animals to stews and even bread. And stuffed squash, apparently. Mallmann actually buries the squash, and a whole buffet of other vegetables, underground and underneath the fire.
Needless to say, this recipe has been modified for the home cook. Adapted from food writer Sasha Martin's recipe, this dish features a little something extra from me: pomegranate, which is one of the easiest ways to add sweetness, texture, and visual oomph to any dish, and just so happens to be in season right now.
This recipe is for one acorn squash, which makes one hearty serving, but it can easily be cut in half to create two smaller servings. Recipe below.
Serves 1 to 2
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups arugula
8 ounces Bucheron goat cheese (or regular goat cheese if you can't find Bucheron)
For the vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (or dried thyme if you don't have fresh mint)
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or dried oregao)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the top off of the squash and remove seeds and strings.
- Drizzle the interior and the cut top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until fork tender.
- While the squash is roasting, mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Use an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor to purée the dressing. Add vinaigrette to the arugula to taste.
- Release the pomegranate arils in a bowl. Try this fast and easy method.
- Transfer roasted squash to serving plates and immediately fill the cavity with the dressed arugula, goat cheese, and pomegranate seeds while squash is still hot. Cut the entire squash in half if serving two.
Adapted from Francis Mallmann and Global Table Adventure.