Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

The acorn squash serves as a bowl for individual servings. An excellent balance of savory and sweet, this pilaf stuffing is autumnal and flavorful. The stuffing is versatile, try different grains, or other varieties of winter squash. This dish is gluten free, and can be made vegan by replacing the butter with olive oil or coconut oil. It works well as a vegetarian main dish at a Thanksgiving meal.

3 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped (or just use the other half of the onion)
4 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 cups cooked wild rice mix (or brown rice, quinoa, cous-cous or a mix of cooked grains)
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped (or raisins or other dried fruit)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place the squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over the tops and insides of the squash halves, sprinkle with the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries, and measured salt and pepper.

Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

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