Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Easy, nutritious meals are always something we appreciate when time seems to be at a premium. This recipe makes use of  wonderful late seasonal vegetables and tastes great. The best part is while these are cooking you can do something else and not have to worry about watching over dinner, they are also their own serving bowls. So not only do you have a great meal in a flash but, there is minimal cleanup.

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence suggesting that squash may have been first cultivated in Mesoamerica 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.  The Native Americans planted crops in a way that each vegetable or plant put in the ground could benefit the other. Known as the “Three Sisters” they planted three indigenous vegetables: maize (corn), beans, and squash. These were usually planted together so the cornstalk could provide support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided ground cover to limit weeds. The beans provided nitrogen in the soil for all three crops.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted and divided
2 acorn squash,  halved and seeded
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (these may be omitted)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 cup wild or brown rice
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup water

Directions

Preheat oven 350 F. Combine brown sugar and half the salt and half the butter in a bowl. Place acorn squash cut side up in a baking dish. Brush butter mixture inside squash and tent with foil and bake for 1 hour.  In a skillet heat olive oil and saute onion. Stir in garlic, walnuts, cranberries and rice and half the salt and thyme. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. or until rice is tender. Remove cooked squash and stuff with cooked rice mixture. Drizzle each half with remaining butter. Sprinkle the rest of thyme over top and season with pepper to taste.

Yield 4 servings

FOOTNOTE: You can do many variations on the stuffing for the squash. Red peppers, almonds and dried cherries or try creating your own combinations.