Simple, Rustic Dinner: Stuffed Acorn Squash

Two weeks ago today, I went into labor. I knew it was for real for real because I had no desire to cook anything. This may sound trivial if you aren’t as food-centric as I am, but I knew on that warm, sunny afternoon that this was IT as I had no desire to throw together a quick quiche or use up the browning bananas and make bread because they and the quiche-makings certainly wouldn’t survive my time in the hospital.

That night, James Plaid Peterson was born healthy with ten fingers and ten toes and he’s now sleeping peacefully beside me as I write.

After I returned home, I caught a reflection of my body in a nighttime window and for the first time in recent memory, I had not a single criticism about my anatomy. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the desire to care for myself so that I can care for James, and I high-fived myself, because baby, we did that!

Maybe that night or a few nights later, I got a text from one of my oldest friends requesting a simple, rustic dinner idea, “other than roast chicken.” With baby on my lap, I sent this to him via text message and he sent back the pic. Here’s the recipe so you can make it too, when you are sick of chicken or not in labor or just in need of a little comfort.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice & Sauteed Greens

1 acorn squash
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup chicken stock
1 handful baby spinach (or other leafy green, cleaned, stemmed, &
chopped into 1″ pieces)
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt + Pepper
2 tsp + 2 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts and/or dried fruit like currants, sultanas, raisins or apricots
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other hard cheese)

1. Cut squash in half, hollow out and discard the seeds (or roast them for another use.) Place squash cut side down in a baking dish with enough water to come 1/2″ up the side of the skin. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° until mostly done, about 35-45 minutes depending on the squash. A sharp knife will poke through the skin easily, and err on the side off too done. You don’t want crunchy squash.

2. Meanwhile, cook the wild rice in chicken stock and quickly saute the greens in 2 tsps olive oil and chopped garlic with a pinch of salt until just wilted. Mix the greens with the rice and add some chopped nuts, dried currants or chopped raisins or dried apricots. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

3. Carefully remove the squash from the water bath and turn cut side up onto a cookie sheet. Fill the cavity of the squash with the rice mix. You can squish the squash down a little if it seems wobbly. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs, grated parm and remaining 2 T olive oil with a few cracks of pepper. Top the squash and rice mix with breadcrumbs and turn oven to 450°. Bake squash until the top is dark brown and crispy. Serve with a glass of red wine and feel comforted.

Thank you, Isaac for the inspiration and the photograph.

  • Debra Eliot

    Congratulations!      With baby in lap you are still doling out fantastic recipes.   I stuff an acorn squash with a quinoa black bean concoction that was delicious.   I want to try this recipe out ASAP.

  • Superjudd

        Congratulations-it really is as sublime as all your friends with kids have been telling you for years-including me I think. Funny you should bring up acorn squash. I was at a farm stand yesterday debating on buying a couple of the aforementioned gourds-wracking my brain trying to remember a great recipe that I had used years ago for Acorn Squash. Thanks for this one-and here’s hoping they start up the cooking classes at Astor Wine again.

  • Linda Reilly

    I just came home from a Farmer’s Market with 3 sweet dumpling squash.  I will make this recipe this week and think of your little dumpling, James Plaid!

  • Profrip

    The journey of your life begins