This is a gorgeous, flavorful, seasonal dish that celebrates the harvest of fall and is perfect for Thanksgiving or other autumn or winter holidays. It’s prettiest served in a large pumpkin or in individual hollowed-out baby pumpkins or acorn squash that sit on each guest’s plate. Serves 6 to 8 (Modified from the Stuffed Acorn Squash in The Vegan Table.)
INGREDIENTS – SQUASH & STUFFING
4 acorn squashes
1 sweet potato or yam, chopped and steamed
1 apple, chopped or sliced
2 scallions, white part only
1/2 cup pine nuts or almond slivers, toasted
2 tablespoons finely shredded mint leaves
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 cups Saffron Basmati Rice Pilaf (see below) or brown rice
INGREDIENTS – CURRIED APRICOT DRESSING
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil (optional)
Salt to taste
INGREDIENTS – SAFFRON BASMATIC RICE PILAF
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup warm water
3-1/2 cups vegetable stock
DIRECTIONS – SQUASH
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The first thing you want to do is cook your acorn squash. The idea is to soften the inside enough to eat it but not make it so soft that you lose the form of your pumpkin.
If you are using acorn squash or another smaller squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds (save and toast them!), and place the squash halves face down on a nonstick baking sheet lined with parchment. (No need to brush with oil.) Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the flesh is tender and can be pierced with a fork.
DIRECTIONS – RICE PILAF
While the squash is cooking, let’s get the rice going. In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, fennel seeds, pepper, and salt. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir constantly for 2 minutes, or until the rice smells fragrant. Add the saffron water, and 3-1/2 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove form heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
DIRECTIONS – DRESSING & STUFFING
For the dressing: In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients together and blend until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Putting it all together: In a large bowl, combine the rice pilaf, cooked yam, apple, scallions, and pine nuts with the dressing. Distribute evenly among the cooked squash halves. Garnish with mint.