here’s a great no-recipe recipe* that utilizes some of your stocked pantry items & inexpensive ingredients to yield an awesome dish that brings in the best autumn treats. all sorts of winter squash will be in abundance from now until next spring, & i love them all, so you can bet we’ll be using them often in recipes to come. let’s start off with acorn squash, shall we?
acorn squash probably gets its name from its shape, which is round but tapered at one end just like an acorn. they’re generally deep green in color & often have orange streaks on the skin. the color of the flesh inside is a marigold-orange. the pulp & seeds are much like a pumpkin’s, where you will usually discard the pulp while the seeds are delightful toasted then salted. i find acorn squash to be extremely versatile & i enjoy it’s fabulous nutty-squashy flavor baked with a bit of butter & brown sugar/maple syrup, or filled with various savory stuffings. try today’s simple & inexpensive dish for a warm, hearty treat!
acorn squash filled with wild rice & cranberries
2 large acorn squash
1 cup wild rice (or wild mix)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper
2 tbsp cheese, grated (anything works nicely here, but i used sheep’s milk for its sharp nutty flavor. also try mozzarella, asiago, parm, etc).
candied nuts (optional)
preheat your oven to 400f. prepare your rice according to package instructions. feel free to add a dash of extra seasoning or vegetables like carrots, celery, etc to the rice if you’d like. in the meantime, using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the stem side of each squash about 1″ from the top & reserve. scoop out the seeds/pulp without disturbing the flesh too much, & discard (or save the seeds to bake as you would pumpkin seeds). slice a small sliver of the other end of each squash off to create a flat end to stand the squash up on (be careful not to slice too much off or you could pierce the flesh & your filling could fall through!). spoon 1tsp of olive oil into each cavity & season with a dash of salt & pepper. using your fingers or a pastry brush, gently rub the oil/salt mixture into the sides of the cavity. when your rice is finished cooking, mix in the cranberries & fill each cavity of the squash heaping with the rice mixture. top with the reserved squash ‘hats’ & place side-by-side in a glass baking dish. i like to put about 1″ of water in the bottom of the baking dish to keep the skins of the squash hydrated so they don’t dry out while baking. cover loosely with foil & bake about 1 hour, or until a sharp knife pierces the skin of the squash quite easily (you’ll want it nice & soft inside so you can eat the inside of the squash with a spoon), then remove squash hats & discard foil, top each squash with a tbsp cheese, & continue baking uncovered until the cheese is melted & browned. serve hot with a few nuts if you’d like, then sit back & wait for a round of “mmmmms”. it shouldn’t take long!
*but there’s a recipe!, you say. of course, but cooking squash is a super simple process that can be altered or added to quite easily. once you follow the cooking directions once or twice you’ll really get the hang of it & wont need a recipe anymore. then you can experiment with other stuffing & flavors. you can’t go wrong!