Stuffed squash is filling, perfect for a Thanksgiving day main course for those of you not turkey or tofurkey inclined. The sweet acorn squash is grounded with dark, smooth black beans, crisp nutty wild rice, bitter cacao nibs, spicy chili power and sweet cranberry. It is topped with a fragrant, allspice and cranberry cashew cream. The variety of flavors, and their delicate balance made this dish is the center piece of my 2017 Thanksgiving plans.
Making stuffed squash is pretty easy- you bake the squash alone, and add the filling at the very end, baking for just a little longer to blend all the flavors together. The filling for my squash is made by first cooking the wild rice. Wild rice (which is actually not rice at all) can be cooked like pasta, in more water than is need and draining the excess water at the end, and it won’t get soggy, so there you don’t need to be as careful with the amount of water you put in. The cacao nibs and the chili powder are toasted together in a dry frying pan, in addition to a little onion. Dried cranberries, chopped into small pieces, can be combined with the other elements to create the final filling. Once the squash is cooked, use a spoon to remove a few tablespoons of the squash meat to create more room for the tasty filling- it will help to balance your flavors. Lastly, top your squash with the sweet, fragrant allspice cranberry cream.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Chili and Cacao Nibs
- 2 large acorn squash
- Sunflower seed oil, to grease pan
- 1 cup of dry wild rice
- 1 15 oz. can black beans
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- ¼ cup dried cranberries (plus more for the allspice cream)
- ¼ onion
- ½ cup cashews
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1/3 cup water
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
1. Heat the oven to 450°F (230C). Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Place cut-side down onto a lightly greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
2. Rinse the wild rice under cool water before placing in a pot with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Wild rice can be cooked like pasta, in more water than the grain will absorb. Depending on the rice you have, this will take somewhere between 30-60 minutes to cook.
3. In the meantime, set your cashews and a ¼ cup of cranberries to soak covered in water. Finely dice your onion and the remaining ¼ cup cranberries, and drain the liquid from the beans. Next toast your chili powder and cacao nibs by heating a small skillet on medium high and adding them to the dry pan. Use a spatula to move the spices around for a few minutes, until they have become fragrant. Add the onions to the pan and saute for a few minutes, then take off the heat.
4. Once the rice has finished, drain any excess water. Combine the rice, onions and spices, beans and cranberries. When the squash is cooked, remove them from the oven. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove a few tablespoons of squash from each half, making more room for the filling. Use that same spoons to fill each squash with as much filling as possible, heaping it in a dome on top. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to cook.
5. Drain the liquid, minus 1/3 cup from the cashews and cranberries. Blend along with the allspice and serve with the squash.