Saturday, April 5, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing

Okay so it may be April, but I have come to realize that spring doesn't exist in Massachusetts.  And in all honestly fall lasts maybe a week.  We have winter, and summer (about 2 months of that).  So yeah, maybe this recipe is more geared towards the fall, but since there are only 2 seasons here, I hereby announce that fall and spring recipes are acceptable year round.

With that said, behold the best fall dish, and thus the best dish for any time of the year, really.  This was another one of my mother's choices.  I had set her up on A Couple Cooks' food blog, knowing that anything she chose from there would be amazing.  I was a bit concerned when I saw that this choice had been one of their Thanksgiving entrees (Thanksgiving in March?!) but hey, it was meatless and sounded delicious, so I went with it.

Now here is some background information.  Before I learned how to cook, I would rarely - maybe a few times a year - get this weird longing to get into the kitchen.  One of these occasions - maybe 10 years ago or so - I tried making stuffed acorn squash.  I don't remember where I got the recipe from, or what the squash was stuffed with.  What I do remember is my family and I refusing to eat it because it tasted terrible.  I have a very vivid memory of spooning some of the stuffing down to Daisy, who immediately spit it out onto the floor.  You know it's bad when your dog won't even eat it.

So for obvious reasons, I was kind of scared to make stuffed acorn squash again.  Alex, who has teased me about acorn squash for years, and Rachael left the house promptly when they heard my dinner plan.  Nick ran out to buy the makings for burgers, and Kenzie was whining and announcing she would refuse to try even a bite.  I ignored all of them and set about roasting the squash, cooking wild rice, sautéing garlic, shallots and kale, and chopping pistachios.  Seriously though - how delicious do those ingredients sound!?  Add feta into the stuffing, and if you're not drooling by now, there's something wrong with you.

Mark, my mother and I dug in first.  I think we were all nervous, but immediately we were shocked at how delicious they were!  Mom even said it was my finest work and made me promise to make them again soon.  Kenzie got curious - despite all the whining she did earlier - and devoured one herself, getting so excited about them that she packed one up and left to bring one to her work friend.  With still plenty of squash left, I called Christy to come eat some, and she loved them too.  The last lone stuffed squash was the subject of a fight between my mom and Kenzie over who would get it for lunch the next day!  So the bottom line is that these stuffed squashes are absolutely delicious - and I think my family trusts me with acorn squash again :)


roasted acorn squash with wild rice pistachio stuffing
from A Couple Cooks
feeds 6 - 8

4 acorn squash
1 1/2 cups wild rice
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1 bunch kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped


1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2) In a medium pot, add 1 1/2 cups wild rice and 4 1/2 cups water.  Boil for about 45 minutes until tender.  Drain any remaining liquid from the pot.

3) Meanwhile, chop each of the acorn squash in half and then in quarters.  Using a spoon, scrape out the guts and seeds.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the squash on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil on the cut sides; sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Turn a cut side down on the sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.

4) While the squash roasts, finely dice 3 cloves garlic and 1 shallot.  Cut the kale into thin strips (chiffonade).  In a large skillet, heat 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil; add garlic and shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Then add the kale and sauté for about 2 to 3 additional minutes until the kale is tender and bright green.  Turn off the heat and stir in the rice, 2 tablespoons olive oil (I did not add any additional oil at this time), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired.

5) Chop the pistachios.

6) To serve, place the squash quarters on a plate.  Top with wild rice stuffing, then sprinkle with feta and pistachios (alternatively, feta and pistachios can be mixed into the wild stuffing - That's what I did).

Clean plate club!  And shocked that she loved it :)

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