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The produce section of any grocery store is boasting with squash, signifying the time for fall cooking. Here’s a creative and flavorful way to use acorn squash, a vegetable loaded with carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins. Not only is squash nutrient dense, but it’s also inexpensive, so take advantage of this ingredient while it lasts.
3 acorn squash
4-5 cups kale, chopped
2 cups wild rice, cooked
1 large apple, finely diced
1 shallot, finely minced
¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp agave
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ Tbsp Dijon or stone ground mustard
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Wash acorn squash and cut in half, from the stem. Spoon out the seeds from each half. Place the halves, skin side down, on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Rub the oil into the flesh and then sprinkle with ½ tsp of the salt.
3. Turn the halves over and bake flesh side down for 15-20 minutes until the flesh has a golden crust. The squash will not be completely cooked through at this point, but will finish cooking with the filling.
4. To prepare the filling, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and sauté 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the kale, ½ tsp salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice and sauté 5 minutes. Add the agave and sauté another 2 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining tablespoon olive oil with the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and mustard. Add the wild rice, apple, sunflower seeds, and kale mixture to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
Note: A cup of cooked and chopped chicken breast can be added to the filling for a protein boost.
6. Spoon the mixture into the acorn squash halves. The mixture will be heaping and some may remain as leftover.
7. Lower oven to 375 degrees and place the squash back onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the squash is soft and the rice mixture is completely warmed through.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif. She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker. Follow Jess’ recipes on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.