20 December 2013

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

It's official - we are both on break! This was Shana's last week of school (whereas I was done with scheduled stuff last week). Given the schedule of events and school obligations she had, Shana opted to stay in Indy two nights this past week. Although that's sad for both of us, she can't do things like enter grades at home as easily as I can, so it made sense.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Tuesdays were the nights I'd been attempting and failing at crockpot dinners. This past Tuesday, I didn't even plan a dinner, which is almost blasphemous in our meal-planning household. I'd purchased a few things I figured I could eat, but nothing that was truly a meal. I wasn't worried, because I know my pantry is well-stocked enough that I could simply throw something together, but instead, I got inspired and made something amazing enough to share.

One of the things I purchased was an acorn squash. I decided I would eat that as part of my dinner, then got inspired thinking about what else to make. The result - a simple, savory, and delicious (!) stuffing - perfectly offset the sweetness of the roasted acorn squash. In addition, the mix of textures (smooth, chewy, and crunchy) gives the whole dish a "fancy" feeling, even though the hardest part of the whole process is probably cutting the acorn squash. Finally (just in case I haven't yet won you over), this is healthy! There's a whole grain, some protein, three veggies, and very little fat. Eat up!

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, cut and seeded
3/4 c. uncooked cracked wild rice
2 1/4 c. water
1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon's "No Chicken" stock (not mixed with water)
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 T. nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
1/2 c. Better Than Bouillon's "No Chicken" broth (per package directions)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. pecan pieces (or more to taste)

Preheat oven to 400. 
1. Brush a thin layer of oil over each half of the acorn squash and place, cut side up, in an oven-safe baking dish. Bake, checking for tenderness after 20-30 minutes or so. You want it to start giving to pressure. 
2. In a rice cooker, combine cracked wild rice, water, and 1 tsp. No Chicken stock. Stir and cook rice. 
3. Toast pecans in a dry skillet or in a toaster oven, watching carefully so that they don't burn. 
4. When rice is done (this may take a good 30 minutes), saute onion and celery in a little bit of oil. 
5. Combine rice, onion, celery, nutritional yeast (if using), garlic powder (if using), 1/2 broth, salt and pepper, and pecan pieces in a large bowl, stirring well. 
6. Remove acorn squash from the oven and fill each half of squash with the rice mixture, mounding a bit. Don't press down on the mixture too hard, as you want it to maintain separate grains. 
7. Put filled squash back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until squash is very tender and the top of the rice mixture has formed a nice crust. 

Helpful Hints
  • There's no need to use cracked wild rice in this recipe; normal wild rice would also work. I would recommend sticking to wild rice, as the flavor of the rice is really lovely with the pecans and acorn squash. If you can't find wild rice where you are (or if it's prohibitively expensive), substitute for a rice that has as close to the same "nutty" flavor and chewy texture as wild rice. 
  • Toasting the pecans takes so little time, but the flavor return is worth it. Don't skip the toasting!
  • The nutritional yeast and garlic powder really are optional. If you opt against them, you're nearly using my very favorite wild rice as the filling. I think the nutritional yeast and garlic powder bring some lovely additional savory notes to the flavor profile, so I would very much recommend them. 
  • When you eat, make sure to get a little bit of squash in with each bit. So. Good. 
  • I diced my onion and celery fairly small, as I wanted them to be closer in size to the rice. Clearly, do what you'd like. 
  • I'm pretty sure this dinner is both gluten- and soy-free, but be careful about broth ingredients. 
The post "Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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