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Thursday, March 22, 2007

stuffed acorn squash



Stuffed vegetables are a wonderful healthy meal. They are fairly quick to put together on a weeknight with some preparation done ahead.

The wild rice stuffing for this can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for about 2-3 days.

Acorn squash seem perfect for stuffing as they are small, have a fairly thin skin, with a mild sweet flesh. And, when baked, the skin gets a slight crispness which makes it delicious. But, sweet bell pepper, or even eggplant are good candidates for stuffing:-)

Procedure is fairly simple: cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and fibers, par-cook in microwave or boiling water, scoop out some pulp and mix it in with the stuffing, then, stuff the squash halves, and bake in the oven.

Ingredients
2 small "ripe" yet firm acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and fiber removed
½ cup grated cheddar
2 Tbsp oil

for the stuffing:
2 cups cooked wild rice
½ cup of dried cranberries, raisins, walnuts, cashew (combined)
½ medium onion diced finely
1 jalapeño chopped finely
2 garlic cloves crushed or minced
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp all-spice powder
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste

Preparation

par-cook the clean squash halves in microwave or boiling water till the flesh is just fork-tender but not mushy (takes just a few minutes)

scoop some of the pulp from each squash half carefully, leaving a thin layer of flesh in the squash

heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and toast the dried cranberries, raisins and nuts, remove from pan, drain, set aside

add another Tbsp oil in the same pan, sauté the onions, garlic and jalapeño; then add the squash pulp scooped out earlier, the cooked wild rice, nutmeg, all-spice, brown sugar, coriander powder, some salt, and stir well; then add the toasted dried cranberries, raisins and nuts, stir till well-incorporated, keep handy for stuffing the acorn squash

pre-heat the oven to 350°F, and keep a baking dish handy

stuff the acorn squash halves with the wild rice stuffing, arrange them in the baking dish and bake for about 5-8 minutes, then, top each acorn squash half with the grated cheese and finish cooking till the cheese melts

Serve warm. Each half can be eaten completely - skin, stuffing, flesh and all!

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