I can’t believe that it’s the middle of November and I haven’t waxed poetic about fall yet. I haven’t even extolled the beauty of Portland this time of year or praised the glorious weather we’ve been having, because we absolutely have been having the most glorious season.
We’re known for our rain and gray skies, of course, but they’ve been few and far between the last couple of months. It’s been perfect. Perfect for running and strolling. Perfect for sightseeing and adventuring. Perfect for autumnal baking and for hard apple ciders enjoyed while firing up the oven for a good meal.
As cheesy as it may sound, I frequently find myself being struck by the beauty of the nature that lies right outside my door. Very often these last few weeks, I have been out on a seemingly ordinary run only to turn a street corner or look up from making sure I don’t trip over fallen branches and I have felt taken aback by just how gorgeous it all is. And, let me tell you, there’s nothing like a breathtaking view to rejuvenate tired legs.
I know that it’s common for many people to think of spring as a season of rejuvenation and hope, but I think differently. For me, it’s that magical time between mid-September and December, when cooler temperatures refresh me and warm foods nourish me. It is this time of year when I feel the most in touch with my own sense of optimism, accomplishment, hope, and gratitude. I hope this dish conveys even a bit of that to you.
Stuffed squash recipes abound, but what makes this one a bit different for me is its straightforward savory nature. Rather than playing up the sweetness of the squash with fruit or similar ingredients, I’ve countered it with a bit of spice and bundles of warm, comforting flavors. It is a meal best enjoyed with a view of the leaves and the laughter of others. A crackling fire and a bottle of wine wouldn’t hurt, either.
A Move Eat Create Original Recipe
- 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
- 1 cup uncooked brown wild rice mix
- 2 cups water
- ½ tblspn olive oil + extra for brushing squash
- ½ white onion, diced
- 1 medium leek, white part only, sliced thin
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- ½ cup diced parsnips (or other root vegetable)
- ½ tspn each salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
- 1 tspn each dried oregano and basil
- Cayenne pepper (optional for those that like a little bit of heat)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash (cut side down) on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray or oil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Place rice in a small pot with the water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and continue cooking, covered and undisturbed, for approximately 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed. When water is absorbed, turn off heat and let rice sit for 10-15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
- Warm ½ tblspn olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and leek. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until they are translucent.
- Add garlic, bell peppers, parsnips, herbs, and spices to the pan. Stir well and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, until all vegetables have softened.
- Turn off heat. Stir cooked rice into the vegetable mixture and toss to combine well. Taste for seasoning.
- After the squash halves have cooked for 30 minutes, flip them over on the baking sheet. Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, if using. Spoon prepared rice and vegetable filling into the squash generously. Return filled squash to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.