When Sabrina picked polenta as this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient, I was a little apprehensive. I had never cooked with polenta before, and I’ve only had it a handful of times. But instead of opting out this week, I came up with a new recipe!
Since polenta is basically corn, I thought I would give this a southern, Mexican twist – but at the same time use some of the lovely seasonal squash I have sitting in my kitchen. I was lazy and bought the pre-cooked kind of polenta, but you could make this from scratch as well. This week my high school friend (HI LAURA!) asked me for a good acorn squash recipe, so I tried to use that too. I came up with this:
Polenta Stuffed Mexican Acorn Squash – 2 ways (vegetarian and with chicken)
Prep time: 1 hour
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped (or garlic powder! – 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, or just leave this out – I add cinnamon to almost everything and I think it’s awesome)
- 2-3 veggie dogs (chopped up) OR 2-3 chicken breast tenderloin (chopped up – I used the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s – just defrost in the microwave for a minute before using)
- 1/2 large carrot, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup of corn
- 9 ounces of pre-cooked polenta (it looks like a sausage; I got mine at Trader Joe’s and used half of it – if you’re starting from scratch, this was 2.5×70 calorie servings)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium roma tomatoes, chopped (slightly smaller than a fist)
- water, as needed
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the acorn squash in half, and place them (face down) on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook for 40-45 minutes, or until soft.
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and spices; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the veggie dogs OR the chicken and cook for another minute. Add the carrot, pepper, and corn – cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Mash up the polenta in a bowl with a fork. Add a few tablespoons of water. Add this to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the salt and tomatoes and a splash of water (1/4 – 1/3 cup). Reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, adding water periodically to keep the mixture moist, for 5-6 more minutes.
- Once the squash is finished, remove it from the oven. Fill each half of the squash with the polenta mixture and top each squash with 1/4 cup of cheddar. You will have extra filling! You can eat it plain or have it with rice, etc…
- Return the squash to the oven (face up this time) and cook for 5 minutes or so; if you let the polenta mixture cool before adding it or if you let the squash cool – cook for longer (10 minutes).
I actually ended up cooking the polenta mix in two separate batches (each half-sized) because I wanted to keep mine vegetarian and Bobby wanted chicken. So here is the vegetarian one:
And the chicken: (Bobby was excited for the cheese and got extra)
Turns out I love polenta – who knew? Have a great night everyone 😀