Baked Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Farro and Cranberries

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November always seems to fly by and suddenly it's Thanksgiving. So many choices, now so little time.  Here's a quick post to satisfy the vegetarians (and vegans) on your guest list.

Here we go, folks! I'll try to keep 'em coming for the next few days.

You couldn’t ask for a more festive alternative to turkey than these squash halves packed with flavor and mounded with wild rice, farro, cranberries, and pecans. Wild rice is not rice at all, but an annual water-grass seed. Since the “rice” absorbs water slowly, the best way to prepare it is to cook it in abundant water, like pasta. You will cook the farro in the same way. Buy pearled or quick-cooking farro, or adjust the cooking time (untreated farro can take much longer to cook). The squash can be stuffed a day ahead and reheated.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Farro and Cranberries
Serves 8
4 small (under 1 pound) acorn squash, halved crosswise and seeded
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup wild rice
1/2 cup pearled farro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large apple, peeled and cut into small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed, rinsed, and cut into thin ribbons       
1/4 cup water  
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to accommodate the squash.

2. On the baking sheet, place the squash halves with their cut sides down. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut a sliver from the bottom of each squash half so that it will stand upright, and place the halves in the baking dish with the hollowed sides up.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the wild rice. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Set a large strainer over a bowl and drain the excess liquid from the rice.

4. Bring a separate saucepan of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the farro. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the farro is tender. Set a strainer over a bowl and drain.

5. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, apple, sage, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Stir in the dried cranberries, fresh cranberries, kale, and water. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kale is tender, adding more water a tablespoon at a time if the pan seems dry. Stir in the cooked farro, rice, and pecans. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

6. Spoon the filling into the squash halves in the baking dish. Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is hot all the way through. The stuffed squash halves can be made one day in advance and reheated in a microwave if oven space is scarce.

p.s., if you're looking for more cranberry recipes, checkout my new book The Cranberry Cookbook

Posted on November 15, 2017 .