acorn squash polenta and happy to be home

Acorn squash polenta, via; © Brooklyn Supper 2012, all rights reserved
Things got a little rough for us last Sunday night. Our 14 month-old went to sleep with a cold, and quickly took a turn for the worse. By 2 am, she was struggling to breathe and throwing up. A call to our doctor confirmed that we needed to head to the emergency room. Big sister took the news well, popped out of bed, and was waiting patiently by the door, shoes on, toys packed. We dashed out and, with a few dramatic moments, wrong turns, and scary stops along the way, made it to the hospital. After that, things got better. We were admitted to the Pediatric unit, and the baby’s smile slowly returned. Over the next few days she improved wonderfully, and was released Tuesday night. Now we’re happily back at home, she’s breathing well, and our little family feels as though it was taken apart and put back together.

And you know what? I think we’re better for it. Our four-person team did great, all things considered. We rallied to do what we needed to for our littlest one and made it through. And there’s something else. I feel so lucky, to have this family, these kids, their health, our health. Everything can change in an instant, and Sunday night was my giant reminder not to sweat the small stuff, to be more patient, and to really enjoy the everyday moments that make up our life.

Another marvelous thing about being home–food. You don’t need me to tell you that hospital food is gross. Microwaved, saltless, gray, and bleh. Once we got home, and regrouped, cooking up some good, healing food was a top priority. And that’s where this acorn squash polenta comes in. It’s a versatile base for any number of fall favorites, from braises, to tomato-based sauces, to sautéed sausage. Roasted acorn squash adds sweet and buttery notes, and blends seamlessly into the polenta, making it so much more delicious.

We served our polenta with sautéed sausage and garlicky greens. It’s the perfect reminder that there really is no place like home.

Roasted Acorn Squash Polenta
serves 4

4 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 acorn squash,rinsed
1/4 cup Asiago cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a large, sharp knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds, and discard or save for another use.

Place the halves face up on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the flesh with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover with foil, and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the squash is incredibly soft and tender. Uncover and set aside to cool. I fed the second half of the squash to my baby, but you can save it, or add it all to the polenta. They are a great match, and I don’t think the polenta could have too much squash.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of cold water to a boil. Whisk in 1 cup polenta (we like the rustic farmer-ground polenta from Cayuga Pure Organics), and the sea salt. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, whisking often.

As soon as the squash is cool, scoop the flesh out of the shell and whisk it in to the polenta. Add the Asiago and butter, and continue to simmer until the polenta is perfectly soft and creamy. My usual cook time is 35 – 40 minutes total.


  1. says

    So happy your little one is home again and on the mend – I can only imagine how scary the whole experience must have been for all of you! And I’m going to tuck this dish away for our own future comfort food needs. We’ve been loving the Cayuga polenta, and I love your method of adding more flavor and nutrition to it with the roasted squash.

  2. SJ Smith says

    Glad your family is okay. I can remember my first run to the ER with my youngest. Some things you just don’t forget. I’ve never tried polenta. You make it sound very appetizing!


  1. […] Thanksgiving in our apartment is normally a time when Elizabeth and I form a cooking superteam, turn out an incredible feast, regale our guests with our wit, and end the day by making a good dent in the stacks of dishes. But for much of last Thursday, I was a man alone in the kitchen. Not alone exactly. A man watching two children and putting together a Thanksgiving feast until our first guest, our dear friend Lily, arrived and helped with the child care while I cooked. As trying as managing Thanksgiving on my own was, I was actually the better off of the two of us. While I was banging away in the kitchen, Elizabeth was in the emergency room in keeping with the new custom of sending a different family member to hospital each month (see examples here and here). […]

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