For Valentine’s Day, serve something red. Tomatoes or red peppers may not feel sufficiently romantic and cranberries are too tart for the day of love; strawberries and raspberries are particularly popular.
Then there are beets, as much a love-hate choice as some relationships. This year, they are my choice, in this Beet and Apple Chutney cooked with fragrant spices the ancients considered aphrodisiac. I plan to serve it in heart-shaped acorn squash halves.
Using the cooked beets sold in the produce section at many supermarkets makes preparing the chutney easy and quick. To make it neat, too, cover your work surface with a piece of plastic-backed shelf paper to discard after the ready-to-chop beets are diced and in the pot. (Baking parchment also works well.)
Serving acorn squash was once a sign of culinary sophistication. Presenting it baked with a buttery brown sugar glaze, baby green peas spooned into the cavity, marked you as a gourmet cook. I think the unpredictability of its flavor and texture eventually helped other winter squash, particularly easily peeled butternut and reliably sweet cuties like Dumpling and Delicata, overshadow acorn squash’s nutty flavor and versatility.
Here, though, serving it speedily steamed and filled with the boldly-flavored chutney is a reminder of acorn squash’s appeal.
Acorn Squash with Beet & Apple Chutney
– Makes 4 servings
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 (8 oz.) package cooked beets, finely chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 small Fuji apple, cored and finely chopped, about 1 cup
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 medium acorn squash, (1 1/4 pounds) or 2 small (3/4 pound each)
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallots and cook until golden, 8 minutes, stirring often.
Add beets, apple, cranberries, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, pomegranate juice and vinegar and bring mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer, and cook covered for 10 minutes, until chutney is moist and tender. If there is excess liquid, cook, uncovered until it has evaporated. Let chutney sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then uncover and set aside. There should be 2 1/2 cups. The chutney keeps, covered, for 1 week in refrigerator.
While chutney cooks, quarter larger acorn squash or halve small ones and scoop out inside. Steam squash until a knife meets slight resistance when inserted into squash, about 10 minutes.
To serve, place a piece of squash on each plate and fill with 1/2 cup of chutney. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per serving: 250 calories, 3.5 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 58 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 60 mg sodium
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.