Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roasted Squash with Rice, Spinach and Cranberry Stuffing

This is a fabulous autumn recipe!  This time of year, winter squash is abundant and a wide variety is available in farmer's markets or at the grocery.  To prepare as a side dish, I choose a small squash, such as Delicata.  If I want this to be the main course, I choose the slightly larger Acorn Squash.  The squash is easy to prepare: Simply cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, season with salt and pepper and roast with cut side down in a 375-degree oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash (until fork tender).  The stuffing can be made ahead of time and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.  Also, any leftover vegetable-rich, rice stuffing is excellent on its own as a side dish or a quick lunch.  Your taste buds will be tantalized by the tangy flavors in the stuffing combined with the slightly sweet flesh of the squash.  This is a culinary experience of autumn's bounty at its very best!

Roasted Squash with Rice, Spinach and Cranberry Stuffing
Makes 2 servings

1 Delicata or Acorn Squash
2 teaspoons coconut oil or olive oil
3-4 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or 1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 carrot, julienne cut or finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sweetened, dried cranberries (or chopped apple can be substituted)
1/2 cup leftover brown rice
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 teaspoons Stevia in the Raw or Splenda
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons gluten-free panko breadcrumbs (I used Ian's)
1 teaspoon melted butter or ghee (clarified butter)

1.  Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.  Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds, season with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Roast for 30-45 minutes until fork tender.  Remove from oven and turn cut-side up.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet with lid, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and carrot to skillet and saute until onion is translucent and carrot is beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the chopped spinach.  If using fresh, place lid on skillet and allow to steam for a few minutes or until wilted.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the cranberries and rice and stir to blend.  Add the apple cider vinegar and Stevia.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove skillet from heat and rest until squash is ready to stuff (or cool to room temperature and refrigerate to use later).

3.  To make the crumble topping, combine the gluten-free panko breadcrumbs and melted butter or olive oil in a small bowl.  Stir with a fork until crumbs are moistened; set aside.

4.  Generously fill the scooped-out cavity of each roasted squash with about 1/2 cup rice mixture.  Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top and broil until topping is browned.  Serve warm.

Nutritional Information per serving: 208 calories, 44.3 g carbohydrate (7.5 g dietary fiber, 10.1 g sugars), 3.4 g total fat (1.7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 667 mg sodium, 107.3 mg calcium, 726 mg potassium, 4.4 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2013

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