African Food and a Recipe for (Gluten-Free and Vegetarian) Stuffed Acorn Squash

             What do you think of when you try to imagine African cuisine? I’m embarrassed to admit that I was preparing for pots of stew filled with unrecognizable chunks of whatever lurking beneath the surface and threatening to cause indigestion or worse…parasites?…the three D’s: diseases, dehydration, and death??!

I’m sure in remote areas or without using precautions, American stomachs might have trouble with some of the cuisine, but our trip had nothing less than spectacular, exotic and gourmet food every day! Grilled ostrich competes favorably with a good beef steak, and warthog is succulent and tender! Our resorts served first-class meals (including the “Full English” plus). Museum cafeterias offered classic favorite like burgers, fries, and cokes.The specialty dishes at our hotels were always appealing and most often bursting with flavor! (If you like seafood, try kingclip [fish].)If not to your taste, at the least the foods are fun and interesting to test!

It is in this frame of mind that I’d like to offer you a recipe for my own adaptation of something that I found in a Spar Deli in Capetown, South Africa. (Spar stores are a national chain like Tesco in the U.K. or Kroger in the U.S.) It’s Lent right now, and my son Joel has given up meat, so I’ve been trying to find vegetarian recipes that have lots of protein and flavor. Although I’m giving you the recipe for what I did, my theory is that  you could do the same thing with any variety of “stuffings,” including chicken salad, tuna salad, or your own unique concoction based on your personal palate of tastes. The unusual aspect is that it’s served in a cup of acorn squash, which is actually sweet, filling but not too caloric, and can be easily scooped out and blended with the other ingredients as you eat. It was a hit with my family.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
(4 servings)

Halve and clean (scoop out the fibers and seeds) 2 acorn squashes. Roast them in a covered roasting pan with 1/2 cup water at 350° for an hour. Cool.

Filling:
2 cups cottage cheese
1 jar grilled, mixed vegetables (or make your own and let them cool)
5 oz. Greek yogurt dip with Spinach and Parmesan
5 oz. Artichoke and Jalapeno dip (you could substitute your favorite dips)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts 

Mix until blended, and fill the cups. It’s remarkably easy and surprisingly good! I think it would be best on a warm day, but I was almost shocked by how much I liked it. (Not all of my creations have been so well received, but I won’t pass along the duds!  🙂  )For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake” (1 Corinthians 10:26-28; this verse does not refer to issues of health and safety, it’s talking about receiving hospitality without worrying about where the food was purchased or processed).