Winter Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

This is beautiful and delicious. You can use it as a main dish for vegans and/or a side dish for omnivores.

Winter Squash (such as Hubbard, Butternut, Buttercup, Acorn or Pumpkin)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water (you can use chicken stock for a non-vegetarian version)
2/3 cup wild rice
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, diced
2 medium apples, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 cups whole-grain bread crumbs (about 4 slices)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup apple juice
Light vegetable oil cooking spray

First, prepare the squash. Halve the squash lengthwise with a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Place halves, cut side up, in foil-lined shallow baking dishes and cover tightly with more foil. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm. When cool enough to handle, scoop out some of the pulp, leaving a sturdy, 1/2-inch thick shell all around. Save the pulp for another use (the cooked pulp freezes well).

In a small saucepan, bring the stock or water to a simmer. Stir in the wild rice, cover, and simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed, 45 to 55 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a medium skillet with the vegetable oil cooking spray; sauté the onion and celery over medium heat until golden.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice, onion-celery mixture, apples, bread crumbs, dried cranberries, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Drizzle apple juice in slowly, stirring all the while, until the mixture is evenly moistened. Stuff into the prepared squash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is slightly crispy. Makes 8 cups.

Adapted from Nava Atlas’ recipe in Veggie Life magazine, November 1997.

Note: The original recipe contained canola oil and walnuts. In this version, I substituted the vegetable oil cooking spray for the canola oil, and the walnuts were eliminated to suit the dietary needs of someone on an extremely low fat diet.

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