Ham perico in acorn squash boats

With the availability of free and plentiful produce, we usually feel more daring and tend to experiment with different dishes. We not only try new ones, but even enjoy combining two or more recipes  into something that otherwise would not have put together.

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Last week we had prepared baked acorn squash for dinner, a dish we enjoy to accompany meat and poultry. After dinner we ended up with four pieces left that we kept in the fridge to have with a future meal.

The next morning, seeing all the fresh cherry tomatoes and onions from our garden, I decided to make a favorite version of a Venezuelan egg dish, “perico with ham”. We had all the ingredients for the perico, but had run out of corn meal, the basic ingredient to make “arepas”, the traditional bread that goes so well with perico.

Need, as my mom used to say, is the mother of all inventions. The realization that I was not going to be able to eat the perico the usual way, made me search what else I could accompany it with. That is when I found myself face to face with the leftover baked acorn squash in the fridge.

Ham perico in baked squash boats.  A delicious and hearty breakfast

Prepare the acorn squash by cutting in half and removing a small portion of the ends so each of the halves can stand flat on a dish. Remove the seeds from the center of the squash, place a small spat of butter and 3/4 tsp brown sugar in the center.

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Bake at 400ºF for one hour or until the squash feels soft when poked with a fork. Brush the sides of the squash with the mixture of butter and brown sugar.

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Note that the acorn squash should be fully cooked before the next step. If prepared the day ahead, store it refrigerated, and warm it up in the microwave prior to serving.

To prepare ham perico for two people combine one half minced onion, three thin slices of Virginia ham finely chopped, and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes in a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil. Cook stirring occasionally until the onion starts looking translucent.

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Add three eggs to the pan, notice that in Venezuela eggs are not always beaten prior to cooking. As soon as some of the egg starts cooking on the pan, start stirring and scrambling all ingredient until it is fully cooked.

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Fill the warm acorn squash halves with the perico, and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste.

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The resulting dish was fabulous and very filling. It is a far version of the traditional dish, but it still had that special combination of sweet and salty that I tend to associate with Venezuelan cuisine. Try it and let me know how you like it.

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