The advent of fall is subtle here in Los Angeles. We don’t get the fire of autumn leaves, serving as a beacon, or the sudden damp and chill, requiring rainboots and peacoats. We tend to put our heads down during the fires and Santa Ana winds of September and October, keep going through day after day of sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures, until sometime in November we look up and notice that the air smells of leaf mold and woodsmoke, the nights have grown cold, the sycamore leaves have changed from golden green to golden brown, and the light seems to be filtered through a faint haze. Fall has arrived, not with bright banners and pounding drums, but quietly and unmistakeably.
Fall also brings with it a cornucopia of autumnal produce — my beloved brussels sprouts, apples, persimmons, pears, sweet potatoes, and of course, squash. Nothing quite screams autumn like winter squash – first the pumpkins for Halloween, then pumpkin pie and suddenly the creamy orange flesh is everywhere you turn.
Squash are often banished to side dish status, but they can be the centerpiece of a meal. Acorn squash, in particular, makes an appealing main course — it’s perfectly sized for built-in portion control, is less sweet than butternut or kabocha squash, lending itself well to savory preparations, and it’s pretty to boot. This acorn squash, which is halved, then baked and stuffed with a mixture of squash and quinoa, is a particularly elegant preparation — hearty, savory and beautiful enough to grace a dinner table. It’s a great option if you are planning a Thanksgiving dinner with vegetarians at the table — it can be made well in advance except for a late reheating, and is substantial and lovely enough that the vegetarians don’t feel like they’ve been relegated to the status of second class citizens. [...]