I’ve been experimenting with winter squashes lately. These are a new item at OHC HQ and one that we are thoroughly enjoying. I didn’t grow up eating winter squash aside from pumpkin, and that was only in pie. Perhaps a cookie, but that’s as far as it went. All the other varieties of squash never crossed the threshold and I’m pretty sure it was the same way over at young Scott’s house as well.
During my experimentations, both of us have decided that we love the winter squashes and currently we have not met a squash we didn’t like. A familiar squash this time of year is the little acorn squash. Perfect as a meal on its own or playing costar as a side dish. And one thing that seems pretty typical is a stuffed acorn squash. Meat of some sort seems to be a common ingredient, sausage taking a top spot.
When I created this dish, it was a veggie day for us so there’s no meat contained in this stuffing. I was looking for something a little sweet and a little savory. Filling, yet light, so as not to weigh you down after eating.
Andrea’s Cranberry and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 1 medium-sized acorn squash
- 1-2 C of cooked brown rice
- 1/2 C of dried cranberries
- 1/2 C of crushed pecans
- 1 TBSP of maple syrup
- 1 TBSP of olive oil
- Salt, pepper to taste
- 1 tsp of chili powder
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. On a foil lined cookie sheet place the acorn squash cut side up. Rub each half with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (to taste). Also sprinkle each half with 1/2 tsp of chili powder, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Roast for about 1 hour or until fork tender.
While that is roasting, cook the rice according to package directions. I always use chicken stock for cooking rice. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine rice, cranberries, pecans, and maple syrup. Mix to combine.
When the squash is fully roasted, remove from oven. Place each half on a plate and fill with the rice mixture. Serve immediately.
Both of us were really pleased with the way the dish came out. The acorn squash is sweet but it isn’t quite as sweet as a butternut, allowing the maple syrup and cranberries to shine through. The pecans give it some crunch and a little protein boost. The brown rice keeps things filling yet light.
I used a brown jasmine rice but you can use whatever rice you love or happen to have on hand. Another common way of roasting squash, is in a shallow roasting pan with a little water, about an inch or so. Roast at the same temp for the same time or until fork tender. The steam from the water will help keep the squash moist.
If you’re looking for something a little different this holiday season, or perhaps an easy side dish to bring to a party, this is definitely a winner.
Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!