Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice and Fruit

Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice and Fruit

One particularly time-starved friend of mine remarked she always disregards a recipe if it has more than five ingredients. I understand time constraints, I really do. But dismiss a wonderful recipe simply because it has six ingredients?

I couldn’t leave this alone. I couldn’t resist peppering this abbreviated-recipe fan with “what if’s.” “What if that 6th ingredient said ‘optional’? What if that 7th or 8th ingredient were dried herbs, or other pantry staples that only take about 5 seconds to add? What if… ,” my voice a strident pitch, “…that recipe is the main course, including side dish? Would you toss the recipe then? I mean, it’s not like I’m tacking on ingredients for deboning, poaching and brushing a duck with aspic.” My friend stared at me blankly, sorry she’d opened her mouth.

I am fully aware, ingredient-fearful-friends, that this recipe has 12 ingredients. I even eliminated some of them for the sake of brevity: Celery, garlic, sage, to name a few. Go check your cupboards, I’ll bet you find at least half a dozen of these ingredients begging to be used in this stuffed acorn squash.

This lovely, seasonal fare is a vegetarian meal in itself. But it also would tastefully and colorfully complete a plate of roasted chicken, turkey or seasonal game.

An aside: Be on guard when cooking with whole grains. When rice and grain manufacturers write cooking times for their products, they are using freshly harvested grains. By the time we buy our bulk grains, or put that colorful little recycled package into our carts, we have no idea how long they’ve been sitting around. Liquid amounts can be off-kilter, cooking times ambiguous, resulting in burnt pans and undercooked grains. My rule of thumb is to use the packaging instructions as a starting point, check the pan often, taste, and allow extra time and liquid until the desired tenderness is reached.

Recipe: Acorn Squash stuffed with Wild Rice and Fruit

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 2-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 acorn squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears; peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley, optional
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Combine rice and amount of stock recommended on package directions in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, adding additional stock if necessary. (See above notes for cooking rice and grains.) When the rice is done, most of the water should be evaporated.
  3. Place the nuts in a single layer on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in oven until lightly toasted, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Cut each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds, membranes and strings. Sprinkle with nutmeg and lightly season each half with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Trim the top and bottom so that the squash sits level, and place on foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan. Bake the squash until just tender, about 30-35 minutes, or until flesh is easily pricked with a knife tip.
  5. While squash in baking, in a large sauté pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the pears and sauté an 3 additional minutes, or until lightly caramelized. Add the thyme and parsley, if desired, and sauté 1 additional minute. Remove from heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, sautéed pear mixture, walnuts and dried cranberries. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired. Divide and mound the rice mixture into the squash halves. Serve.

Active time: 35 minutes

Wild rice cook time: 45 minutes – 90 minutes

Yield: 6 stuffed acorn squash

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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