Can we take a very quick break from all the desserts for just a minute? I kind of feel like I need to share this recipe with you to break up my overflow of desserts, but also because this may or may not want to be on your Christmas dinner table?
Squash has never been one of my favorites. My husband, on the other hand, loves it. He always makes whipped squash just for himself for Thanksgiving. Because, why not? So, when I first came across this recipe, I felt like it hit the spot in both our worlds. Sure, I’ll eat a roasted squash that has rice, nuts, breadcrumbs and cheese in it. Because, heck, that is a lot of awesome flavors right there. So, I put it on the menu a few weeks back and let me tell you. OhMyLanta. It was SO good. This dish is well worth the time it takes to make all the separate components. It’s so filling, but you don’t walk away with that feeling like you need to go put stretchy pants on. This is a “bowl” of ideal comfort food right here. I think this would be a pretty excellent vegetarian choice for your christmas dinner table. I’m just sayin’.
Let me break down all the amazing layers of this bad boy. First, you have a roasted squash that has been seasoned with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, that acts as your bowl. Then, you have a wild rice mixture that is filled with a mixture of spinach and arugula, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and some herbs. Sprinkled with cheddar cheese, and then baked in the oven until melted and hot. Then, because that definitely isn’t enough, toasted panko breadcrumbs mixed with browned butter are sprinkled over the top. Enough said.
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest
For the squash
- 2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper
For the wild rice mixture
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 2 cups arugula, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- salt and pepper
For the breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup panko
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped almonds
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the squash in a baking dish, cut side up. Brush the insides of the squash with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar, cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the squash flesh is tender when poked with a knife. Remove from the oven, but keep the oven on.
- Meanwhile, make the rice. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce the heat to low. Simmer until tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 35 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the olive oil, spinach and arugula. Cover the pot and let sit for about 10 minutes, or until the greens have wilted. Stir in the thyme, almonds and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the squash and rice cook, make the breadcrumbs. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is a nice deep brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the panko and almonds.
- To stuff the squash, fill with the wild rice mixture, then top with the shredded cheddar. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and top with the breadcrumbs and chopped fresh parsley. Serve.