Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Thanksgiving leftovers present such an odd conundrum. You wait and wait with anticipation for the feast. Your family gorges themselves, and yet you’re left with huge quantities of leftovers. Sure, you have a couple of killer turkey sandwiches in the days that follow, but then what? You don’t want to throw food away, and you don’t really want to do more work after you spent days prepping and cooking for the big meal.
Sometimes a little remixing is all it takes to make things interesting again. For this recipe, I took several items typically left over from the Thanksgiving feast—a little turkey and some bread stuffing (I used a commercial cornbread version, but any family recipe should be delicious)—and repackaged them together in roasted acorn squash halves. To stay true to the exercise, I tossed in bits of nuts and cheese I still had after a gathering with friends. You can customize this recipe to use up whatever you have hanging around from your Thanksgiving; mixing in some greens or topping it all off with extra gravy certainly wouldn't hurt!
Pairing wine with a traditional Thanksgiving meal is always a challenge. You have a huge variety of sweet and savory dishes commingling on the same table. Essentially, this recipe puts those dishes together on the same plate, so finding one wine to match all of the flavors proved predictably difficult.
I rounded up a selection of varieties often suggested as Thanksgiving selections, but one by one, they failed to stand up to the varied tastes. I’d had high hopes for an Alsace Pinot Blanc, but this particular bottle didn’t have the needed residual sugar to play well with the sweetness of the squash and quickly became shrill. An Italian rosé and a fruity California Zinfandel fared somewhat better, but still turned bitter with many bites.
As so often happens, it was Riesling to the rescue. A slightly off-dry German version had just the right balance of attributes: a pretty, lush texture to match the weight of the dish, just enough sweetness to work with the squash, and enough acidity to refresh the palate—exactly what's needed for a Thanksgiving reprise.
Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash
Pair with an off-dry Riesling such as St.-Urbans-Hof Riesling Qualitätswein Mosel Old Vines 2014 (89 points, $16).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 1 hour
Active cooking time: 10 minutes
Approximate food cost: $18
- 2 acorn squash, split in half, cleaned, seeds removed
- 2 cups prepared stuffing
- 1 cup shredded turkey meat
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
- 5 ounces arugula
- Sherry vinegar
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Place the acorn squash halves on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in the oven. Roast for approximately 50 minutes, or until the squash starts to turn a light golden brown and the flesh is soft.
3. While the squash halves are roasting, mix the stuffing and turkey meat in a pot over medium heat. Mix in the walnuts and dried cranberries. Keep warm until the acorn squash is ready.
4. Once the acorn squash is soft when pierced with a fork, remove from the oven. Divide the stuffing mixture among the four halves, spooning it into each cavity. Dot each squash half with some of the crumbled blue cheese. Return the squash to the oven for another 10 minutes.
5. In the meantime, toss the arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, until lightly coated, and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Once the stuffed squash is fully heated through and the blue cheese starts to melt, remove the halves from the oven and serve each portion on a bed of the dressed arugula. Serves 4.