Why It Works
- A 1:1 ratio of wild rice to white rice results in a balanced, flavorful filling.
- Toasting the pecans intensifies their flavor.
- Tart dried cranberries and salty ricotta salata provide a punchy contrast to the toasty pecans, sweet squash, and nutty earthiness of wild rice.
I spent several years as a graduate student, and anyone who's ever shared my plight knows that when things get busy at school, certain aspects of life start to fall by the wayside—you know, like showering and conversing with relatives and eating food that isn't pita bread dipped in hummus.
I remember being snowed in under deadlines and not really paying attention to my meals, subsisting on cereal and milk and the occasional free slices of pizza my school provides at events they really want students to attend. When I did finally have the time to cook myself a proper meal, I was met with the sight of a depressingly empty fridge (I hardly ever had the time to go shopping).
This was not the normal, organized me: In my pre-graduate school life, I got lots of pleasure from planning my meals and shopping for them. I had to adjust the way I cooked, whenever I actually had the time to do so. I had to make big meals that keep well to eat throughout the week.
This recipe for stuffed squash fits the bill. Sweet, creamy acorn squash is filled with a wild rice mixture accented with toasty pecans and tart chewy cranberries, with some salty ricotta salata cheese folded in for contrast. One squash makes a hearty, filling meal that can be easily consumed in front of a computer screen. But don't worry: If you're a normal person, it tastes just as good eaten at a dinner table in the company of friends or family.
4 small acorn squash
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice (1/2 cup raw rice)
1/2 cup wild rice, boiled in 2 cups water for 30 minutes, then drained
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata cheese
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Remove seeds from acorn squash: using a sharp chef's knife, trim away a small flat slice from the bottom of each squash so it sits flat. Then, cut off the top 1/2 inch of each squash, exposing the seeds. Use a tablespoon to scrape out seeds and fibers. Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet, season lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle each squash with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from oven.
In the meantime, prepare the stuffing: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion sweats but does not brown, about 4 minutes. Add cooked white rice and cooked wild rice to the skillet and stir to combine. Add chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and ricotta salata and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff each acorn squash with about 1/4 of stuffing mixture, packing stuffing into squash cavity and mounding it slightly. Drizzle each squash with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and bake until squash is tender and stuffing browns slightly, about 40 minutes.
Cast iron skillet, rimmed baking sheet
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||19%|
|Total Carbohydrate 77g||28%|
|Dietary Fiber 13g||45%|
|Total Sugars 18g|
|Vitamin C 25mg||126%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|