Stuffed squash, oh yeah! While squash usually conjures up images of fall, the harvest, and Thanksgiving (at least for those of us in lands lucky enough to celebrate it), can be used to provide a base for a very tasty and very filling meal all the way through the spring, as it did for me and my family on this fine, grey Portland April eve. Walnuts, green peppers, and celery add a delightful crunch to the mush of the rice and the squash. Sage forms the heart of the spicing, with parsley, rosemary, and thyme filling out the flavor. It's an overall hearty and robust meal, with a rich flavor but mild and unthreatening demeanor.
This recipe is entirely vegetarian, and could easily be made vegan by the omission of the cheese, perhaps to be replaced by soy cheese or the like. For those with nut allergies, tempeh would make a reasonable replacement for the walnuts. For those who just need their meat, I suspect that ground beef cooked and then added to the rice mixture would serve (though you'd probably still want to keep some walnuts for the texture), though it's been many years since I've eaten such. I'm also not sure how the spicing might be adjusted to accommodate the flavor of the beef; please let me know if you try such and how you might adjust it.
- 1 acorn squash & 2 butternut squash, or other similar quantity of your favorite yummy edible gourds
- 1 cup dry rice: Near East Wild & Long grain w/seasoning, or bulk wild rice, vegetable bouillon cubes, and chopped parsley
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large green pepper, finely diced
- 1 large stalk celery, diced
- 1.5 cups chopped walnuts
- spices for stuffing:
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 2 Tbsp sage
- 2 tsp thyme
- generous dash of celery salt
- generous dash of salt
- generous dash of fresh-ground pepper
- 3/4 to 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 to 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- olive oil
Halve squashies lengthwise, scoop out seeds and the surface of the squash meat.
Coat squash in olive oil and cumin.
Bake on a cookie sheet for ~15 minutes in a convection oven or ~40 on regular oven at (375°F) until squash is done.
Cook 1 cup dry rice—packaged rice w/seasoning packet as instructed on box, or simply add a couple vegetable bouillon cubes and parsley to bulk rice as you cook it.
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil.
Finely dice the green pepper, the chopped walnuts, and 1 large stalk celery. Add to the pan when onion is just starting to become transparent. Cook until peppers and celery soften somewhat.
Add cooked rice to the pan, and mix thoroughly. Add spices as listed, tinkering to taste. Continue cooking for a minute or two to heat the mixture and allow the flavors to combine.
Place squash peel-down on the cookie sheet and scoop rice mixture into the squash. You'll probably have some leftover mixture; that's fine, just serve it on the side with the squash when it's done. Top the rice-stuffed squash with the grated cheeses until the top surface is mostly coated.
Broil stuffed squash on middle rack until cheese melts and begins to brown. Serve immediately along with any leftover rice stuffing, cutting squash in half for more appropriately-sized portions.