Cafe Sunflower, Sandy Springs
From the menu of…
By Deborah Geering
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
August 30, 2007

Lin Sun Cafe Sunflower Acorn Squash

Q: My boyfriend took me to the Cafe Sunflower in Sandy Springs because of my love for vegetables and teas. I had the Stuffed Acorn Squash, and my jaw just about fell off in palate-worship. I’ve since had it many, many times, and now I crave the taste — not to mention that it reminds me of my love. Can you sneak out the recipe on this one?

A: No need to sneak out anything; this recipe appears in “Cafe Sunflower: Recipes You Can Cook at Home” by the restaurant’s owner, Lin Sun (self-published, 2006, $30). Sun said the dish first appeared as a seasonal special a few autumns ago, but it was so popular she added it to the menu. “It’s very harvesty,” she explained as she itemized the ingredients — wild rice, red cabbage, cranberries, mushrooms and walnuts, among others. “There’s a very full range of things that make the dish very exciting,” she said. Most exciting of all are the spices, which lace each bite with lavender, coriander and tarragon.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
4 servings

Hands on: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

This entree is so beautiful, it can be served on your nicest occasions. But be very careful when seasoning the filling: With each taste, you’ll be tempted to, you know, check again to make sure there’s enough, uh, salt. Yeah, salt. Better taste one more time … before you know it, you won’t have enough filling left for the squash.

4 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons soy margarine, melted
4 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons cooked wild rice
1/4 cup cooked navy beans
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (basil, marjoram, savory, rosemary, thyme and lavender)
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
Pinch coriander
Pinch black pepper
Pinch allspice
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top quarter off the squash. If necessary, cut a coin size off the bottom ridges so the squash can stand upright. Scoop out the seeds.

Brush the inside of each squash with the margarine. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Place the squash in a large baking dish. Add water to the pan to 1/2 inch deep. Cover the pan with foil, making four 1-inch slashes as vents for the steam to escape. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick can go easily into the squash.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Sauté the mushrooms until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the corn, cranberries, walnuts, wild rice, navy beans and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence, tarragon, coriander, black pepper, allspice and a pinch more of paprika; stir well. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the spinach and remove from the heat. When the squash are done, stuff them with the filling. Serve hot.

Per serving: 530 calories (percent of calories from fat, 48), 9 grams protein, 66 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 30 grams fat (4 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 169 milligrams sodium.