Brussels Sprouts, Millet, & Bacon Stuffed Acorn Squash

Happy almost Thanksgiving! We finally have plans. We’ll be having a few friends over for friends-giving and this will be the first year I’ll be cooking a turkey in 15 years. The one other time I cooked a turkey was when I was an exchange student in New Zealand and my friend - another American exchange student - and I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for her host family. I was even a vegetarian then… not sure why I was in charge of the turkey… Anyway, I’m not too worried. I’ll brine it, stuff it (wild rice, butternut squash, and chestnut stuffing), tie it up, and stick it in the oven for a couple of hours. Right? Any suggestions?

While these stuffed acorns squashes are not on the Thanksgiving menu, there were delicious and very fall-esque. We made them during our Sequim trip in between the hand pies and pumpkin spice ice cream (still to come!). I love Brussels sprouts. Together with the nutty millet, sweet cranberries, and salty bacon they were so yummy stuffed inside a squash. These would make an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving or you could even turn them vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using veggie broth instead.

// Brussels Sprouts, Millet, & Bacon Stuffed Acorn Squash // Serves 4 or 8
Noah and I each ate a whole half squash when we made these (I often forget to eat when I'm cooking away in the kitchen), but you could cut each half in half to serve 8. As I mentioned above, this recipe is easily made vegetarian by omitting the bacon (or adding fake bacon) and using veggie broth in lieu of the chicken stock. You'll probably have to adjust the seasonings though. 

2 acorn squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup millet
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 lb brussels sprouts
1/2 cup red onion, diced
5 pieces of bacon
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese + more for top
Salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of salt
pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and inner membranes. Drizzle each squash half with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Place halves, hollow side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let cool. 

2. While the squash is cooking, start on the filling. Place millet and chicken stock in a medium sauce and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool. 

3. Cut brussels sprouts into quarters. Gently heat butter in large skillet over medium-low heat, then add onion. Cook onion until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add brussels sprouts. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until brussels sprouts are still firm, but not crunchy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. In same skillet, cook bacon until crispy, about 7 minutes then place on a paper towel to soak up extra fat. When cool bacon is cool, roughly chop into small pieces

4.  Add the bacon, walnuts, cranberries, millet, and 1/4 cup cheese to the brussels sprouts. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. 

5. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice, thyme, and salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the millet mixture and stir until well combined.

6. Spoon the millet filling into the acorn squashes, pressing firmly with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle more cheese on top and bake squash for another 15 minutes.