YIELD: 6 servings
- 3 small acorn squash
- 2 teaspoons, plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
- 1 cup of wild rice medley
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups unsalted or low sodium vegetable stock
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 medium Gala apple, cored and diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Roast the squash; preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit, cut a small slice off the top (stem) and bottom of the squash, cut the squash in half crosswise, scoop out and discard the seeds. Repeat with remaining squash. Place each squash half, smallest end down, on a lined or greased cookie sheet, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of oil, maple syrup, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Make the rice; Cook the rice medley according to the package instructions, using the stock in place of water. NOTE: The rice will require more or less liquid depending on the type of grains in your mix, but you want this to be on the moist side to withstand additional baking. Once cooked, let sit for 10 minute, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly. This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.
- Sweat the aromatics; heat a medium skillet over low heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil, along with the diced onions, shallots, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium, add the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes, add the fresh thyme cook for 1 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. NOTE: stock can be used here instead of wine if preferred.
- Assemble; Transfer the cooked rice and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl add the diced apples, cranberries and pecans. Stir gently to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit more stock if the mixture feels dry. Fill each squash half with a heaping scoop of the rice mixture and bake for 10 minutes just until the rice and squash are heated through.
- Transfer to a platter, garnish with additional thyme sprigs and serve immediately.