As a vegetarian who’s also gluten-free, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate foods of the season into creative and satisfying meals. The abundance of acorn squash this time of year makes it a perfect addition to the holiday table. This recipe incorporates many traditional ingredients into an amazing new holiday option.
Each section is prepared individually, then added together and baked before serving, a great “do-ahead” option. Don’t let the multiple steps keep you from trying this — it’s well worth the effort.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
A perfect addition to the Thanksgiving holiday table!
For the acorn squash:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the outsides of two acorn squash (of similar size), cut the bottom point so it will “sit,” then cut the top portion to allow removal of seeds.
Remove seeds and scrape the stringy flesh until the squash is smooth. Coat the inside of the squash with organic extra virgin olive oil (roughly one teaspoon in each squash, depending on size) and add salt and pepper.
In a baking pan with a wire rack, add a layer of foil on top of the wire rack, placing the squash on the foil, then cover the squash and pan tightly with foil, bake until tender but firm, about 20 minutes. Baking time will vary, so test the doneness using the point of a sharp knife. Set aside.
For the rice:
(I used a blend organic of black and jasmine brown rice, but you can use your favorite combination).
1/2 cup of organic black rice (to rinse or not to rinse, use your judgement)
1/2 cup of organic jasmine brown rice, rinsed
2 cups water, or organic vegetable broth, or organic chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
2 scallions (green onions) washed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon baby ginger, peeled and finely chopped
In a 2 1/2 to 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat organic extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and ginger stirring to cover with the olive oil, stirring to keep from browning for a minute, then add rice, salt and pepper.
Stir the mixture to coat with the olive oil, cooking and stirring for about three minutes. (You can add more olive oil if needed).
Add the water (or vegetable/chicken stock), reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes until rice is soft but not mushy. (Check the liquid level and adjust as needed, and the cooking time as needed). Set aside.
For the sautéed spinach and mushrooms:
2 cups organic baby spinach, washed
1 cup organic baby bella mushrooms, washed and cut into quarters
1 stem organic sage, washed and chopped fine
2 stems organic thyme, washed and chopped fine
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water (or organic vegetable broth, or organic chicken stock)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large non-stick skillet, heat organic extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, cooking until light brown, about three minutes then add sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Continuing to cook until a golden brown, about five minutes.
Add water (or vegetable/chicken stock) and spinach, cover with a lid and simmer until spinach is wilted, about three minutes. Remove lid and sauté until all ingredients are tender and well incorporated, adjust salt and pepper, then set aside.
For the cranberries:
1 cup of organic whole cranberries, rinsed and sorted
1/2 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (optional)
Honey or organic brown sugar to taste
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Add all ingredients into a saucepan, cooking over low-heat and stirring occasionally for about five minutes. The cranberries should be mostly whole but tender and the liquid should be thick. Continue cooking another three minutes if the berries are still firm. Add honey or sugar to taste and freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg to add a hint of the holiday.
Bringing it all together
In a large medium sized bowl add the sautéed spinach and mushroom mixture, then a cup of rice at a time to reach a balance of flavors and colors. Lastly, add the cranberry mixture 1/4 cup at a time, tasting for a balance between all flavors and an eye to the colors. Once your stuffing is ready add it to the acorn squash and baked for about 15 minutes until warmed all the way through.
You can refrigerate the stuffed squash for two days until you’re ready to serve which gives you plenty of time to work on the other dishes or choose the right wine for your Thanksgiving table. I would suggest a Beaujolais Nouveau, which is a young Gamay red wine or a crisp Bordeaux Blanc white wine for the Thanksgiving table — both wines pair well with turkey and aren’t heavy wines, which means you can eat, drink and socialize longer!
Last tip: If you have too many leftovers, you can bake the squash ahead of your Thanksgiving gathering (one squash for each family) and then make a “leftover” squash for each guest as a reminder of your gathering and a fun way to use your leftovers. For example, you can dice up some turkey, green beans (or other vegetables) add some mashed potatoes and stuffing, mix all together and stuff into the squash (you can even add some gravy to the mix — if you have any leftover!) Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving!
Tina Galhaut has been cooking, baking and living gluten-free these past four years, testing many recipes on her teenage son, Logan, until they are as good or better than the original. As wife, mother and co-owner of Z Bistro in North Carson, Tina and her chef husband Gilles offer many gluten-free selections on their menu. Contact Tina by email at email@example.com.