This is a really fun and impressive dish that is very versatile; it can be served as lunch fare, a side dish, or vegetarian entrée. The dish has nice a textural contrast between the Israeli couscous, pecans, and goat cheese, and is absolutely delicious!
Couscous Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
4 acorn squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp.
2 tbsp. kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 cup Israeli (or Grande) couscous
2-1/4 cups vegetable broth, or substitute chicken
6 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup packed coarsely chopped arugula
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 oz. goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut very bottoms off each squash to make a level surface. Cut off the tops, reserving. Remove seeds and any excess flesh. Coat with 1/4 cup olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Bake squash 35-40 minutes, then add squash tops and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add couscous and let cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until couscous is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Uncover, remove from heat and let cool.
Once couscous has cooled, combine with dates, pecans, arugula, and vinegar in a medium bowl, tossing to mix. Crumble in goat cheese and gently fold to combine.
Place squash on a platter and fill with couscous mixture, overstuffing slightly. Place squash tops gently on couscous as a garnish.