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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild RiceThis autumnal side dish goes wonderfully with roasted poultry, ham and pork.

Recipe Ingredients:

3 acorn or dumpling squash
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter - divided use
3/4 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 teaspoons minced sage leaves
2 teaspoons thyme, minced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Cut each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard seeds and strings. If necessary, trim top and bottom so that squash will sit level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle each half with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg, to taste. Using 3 tablespoons butter, dot each half with some butter. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine rice, chicken broth, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of water, in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. When rice is done most of the water should be evaporated.
  4. In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add pears and sauté 2 minutes longer. Cover pan, adjust heat to medium-low, and cook vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add sage, thyme, and parsley and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, sautéed vegetables and pears, walnuts and dried cranberries. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.
  6. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil.
  7. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

*Toasting nuts brings out their full, rich flavor. Place nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Alternatively, nuts can be browned in a microwave. Place nuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully that they do not burn.

Recipe and photograph courtesy of USA Pears.