My entire neighborhood is ablaze with fall colors. Everything around me seems to be a brilliant, orange or red. There is no better time than now to bring out that Acorn squash that’s been sitting on my counter. Its the perfect shape and size to stuff with a fluffy, nutty brown rice that smells like the fall. But I’ve always wondered how squash got its name. Winter squashes especially are so hard, you cant exactly “squash” them! Then I discovered that the name comes from the native Indian word “Askutasquash” which means “eaten raw”. So here is my recipe for brown rice pilaf in askutasquash bowls
Acorn squash – 6
Brown rice – 1 cup
Vegetable stock or water – 1 3/4 cup
Onion – 1
Garlic – 4 cloves
Carrot – 1
Celery – 2 stalks
Water chestnut – 1/4 cup chopped. Substitute toasted walnuts.
Thyme – 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1/4 tsp
All spice or clove powder – 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg – pinch
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt – about 1 1/2 tsp
Olive oil or butter – 2 tbsp
Pre-heat oven to 400. Wash and dry the squash. Place on a kitchen towel and carefully cut the top off with a sharp knife like the picture below. I like to score the top first where I want to cut it. Then I make the deeper cuts to remove the cap. Trim some of the flesh off the cap. Scoop the seeds and fiber out. Drizzle a little olive oil on the inside of the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper. If the squash is not stable, slice off a little from the bottom of the squash to make a stable base.
Pour a little water in an oven proof pan. Place the squash with lids on in the pan. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check the squash half way through, if the water dries up, add a little more. If the tops are getting burnt, cover with foil. Squash is done when it is fork tender.
To prepare the rice, heat a skillet with olive oil. Chop the onion, carrot and celery finely. Add to the oil and saute for about a minute. Then add minced garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Add the rice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice/clove. Saute on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock or water, lemon juice, salt and pepper. If you are using stock, you’ll need less salt.
Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover the pan and let the rice simmer for about 30 minutes or till cooked. Cooking time may vary depending on your rice.
Stir in the parsley and water chestnut/walnuts. To serve, spoon the rice into the acorn squash bowls. Scoop the squash along with rice to eat.