STUFFED ACORN SQUASH Makes 4 stuffed squash 2 acorn squash (each about the size of a softball) Olive oil or vegetable oil, as needed Salt and pepper, as needed 1 onion, small diced 1 bell pepper, small diced 1 cup sliced or diced mushrooms 1 cup cooked white rice 1 cup cooked brown rice 1 cup cooked wild rice ¾ cup toasted pecan pieces ½ to 1 cup grated Parmesan or other cheese, as desired Thyme, oregano and sage, as needed.
STUFFING You can add just about anything to the stuffing, so don’t feel tied down to the recipe that follows. Abide by just a few key rules and you can make the recipe fit whatever flavor profile you want. Grains should be cooked and seasoned; you’re not limited to rice only. You could try quinoa, bulgur wheat, grits, millet or just about anything else you like. Make sure that all vegetables for the stuffing are cooked and seasoned. Once you’ve combined the stuffing ingredients, make sure it binds well (adding more cheese helps). Sample for taste and season again, if necessary.
INSIDE COLUMBIA NOVEMBER 2014
FINISHING When the squash comes out of the oven with warm stuffing, you are not too far away from the finished product. Just a short time in the oven and you are ready to eat. To ease your work on the day of your dinner, cook and stuff the squash a few days ahead of time. Cool the uncovered stuffed squash in the refrigerator. Once cool, keep them wrapped until the day of your event. It will take a little longer to heat up because the squash will be cold in the center. Start the squash at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat up to 350 degrees and finish as in the original recipe.
Cut squash in half from top to bottom. (If you cannot find a smaller squash, cut one large squash into quarters.) Scoop out the seeds. (Rinse and toast the seeds for a tasty snack.) Brush the inside of the squash with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place the squash on a sheet tray or in an ovensafe dish. Place into a 350-degree oven for 7 to 15 minutes until squash is about ¾ of the way cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool until comfortable to handle. You will be able to check for doneness by using a paring knife; it should pierce the inside of the squash easily. When pulling out the knife, the flesh should barely hold onto the knife before releasing.