Baked Acorn Squash with Wild Rice and Kale Risotto

In the last couple of years, I’ve moved towards maintaining a more vegetable based diet. I certainly have not cut out meat or fish altogether, but I’ve tried to limit them to only once or twice per week.

However, my struggle has been leaving a meal feeling truly satisfied. Sometimes, I’ll put together a ridiculously healthy, veggie-based meal…it will be awesome… aaaand then I’m hungry again when I’m cleaning up the dishes. So then I’ll probably end up snacking…which will probably end up completely canceling out that super healthy meal I just ate. Great.

Ugh.

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Sometimes it can be hard to find vegetarian recipes that are filling. Maybe it’s because I’m just a rookie. I get that. But the most satisfying vegetarian meals to me are usually the ones loaded with cheese. Cheese is fine in moderation, but cheese covered everything isn’t so good either.

Well, all this to say, I’m slowly but surely learning tricks to making vegetarian dishes more filling. This recipe uses two of them:

1. Use a grain (preferably not refined) of some sort as a base.

2. Use a hearty, less-watery vegetable. (In this case, squash)

Just a bit of a warning for this one: You will need to multi-task. Readyyyyyy go!

Baked Acorn Squash with Wild Rice and Kale Risotto

Adapted from nytimes.com.

IngredientsIMG_7517

  • 6 small acorn squash
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice (1/3 cup uncooked)
  • 32 oz. vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Instructions

1. Bring 2 cups of the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add some salt and the wild rice. When the water returns to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 40 to 45 minutes, until the rice has softened (there will still be liquid in the pot, but that’s okay!). Drain and transfer the rice to a large bowl.

2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with olive oil. Place the squash in the oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and let it rest until it has cooled slightly.

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3. Meanwhile, blanch the kale in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2-4 minutes, until just tender (don’t overcook!). Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop and set aside.

4. Set the squash to rest on the side that it was sitting on in the oven. Slice off the top third of the squash. Scrape out the seeds and membranes from both pieces and set aside. Repeat with the remaining squash.

5. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and oil a casserole dish.

6. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat, with a ladle handy. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy nonstick saucepan or skillet. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until it is just tender, 3-5 minutes.

7. Add the arborio rice and garlic and stir until the pieces separate and begin to crackle. Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Begin adding the simmering stock, a couple of ladlefuls at a time. The stock should just cover the rice and should be bubbling. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook, adding more stock and stirring when the rice is almost dry, stirring often.  Continue to add stock and stir until the rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes. The rice should still be a little chewy.

8. Add another ladleful of stock and stir in the kale, wild rice and herbs. Stir together until the stock is just about absorbed, about 5 minutes, and add another ladleful of stock. Remove from the heat. Add pepper, taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the remaining olive oil and the parmesan.

9. Sprinkle the surface of the acorn squash with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fill the hollowed-out squash with the risotto. Place the tops back on the squash and put them in the baking dish or on the sheet pan.

10. Bake 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender all the way through when pierced with a knife.

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