This dish was inspired by this recipe at epicurious.com, but it really turned into something entirely my own, based on my tastes and supplies!
2 buttercup squash (or should that be squashes?)
1 packet Kashi Seven Whole Grains and Sesame Pilaf (which isn't truly pilaf -- it has no added herbs, spices, or other seasonings)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp ground dried sage
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut squash in half ("vertically," from stem end to blossom end). Scoop out seeds and pulp (save the seeds -- they can be roasted* just like pumpkin seeds!). Place squash halves cut side down in an oiled baking dish. Bake 35 - 40 minutes, until squash flesh is tender.
While the squash bakes, prepare one packet of Kashi pilaf as directed on the package. Set aside.
Saute onion in small amount of olive oil until translucent. Add sage, saute 1 minute more. Add pilaf, lemon juice, salt, pepper, almonds, and cranberries. Stir until all ingredients are heated through.
Place squash halves on plates. Fill cavities with pilaf. Garnish with cranberries and squash seeds (if you chose to roast them) or almonds (if you didn't roast the seeds!).
One squash half with pilaf makes a very satisfying vegetarian entree!
* To roast seeds: separate them from the pulp, removing as much of the "string" as you can. Rinse well, then pat dry. Toss with just enough oil to coat, and salt to taste. Roast at 300 for about 45 minutes, until toasty and crunchy. Before today, I hadn't roasted pumpkin/squash seeds in years. Yum!!!
I cooked just one squash, so I have plenty of pilaf left over for lunches this week. =)
If you looked at the original recipe, you saw that it calls for acorn squash. I prefer buttercup -- I like the flavor better, and I think it looks a lot more like an acorn than acorn squash does! I actually (unintentionally) overcooked mine a bit, so the shells were pretty soft -- not quite suitable for serving on plates. But I really like the roasty, caramelly flavor it got from being cooked those extra few minutes.
As much as I like rice, I thought this dish would be a lot more fun with the Kashi grain mix. It has a variety of nice flavors and textures from the different grains, and is even healthier, with lots of fiber, protein, iron, and cholesterol-lowering oats. I'm really glad I tried it. I may never eat plain brown rice again!
Also, I left the squash flesh intact in its shell, rather than mixing it with the pilaf. I think it's fun to scoop up a forkful (or spoonful) of the pilaf, scraping up a bit of squash along with it.
I'm sure this pilaf would make a great stuffing for summer squash, too... or bell peppers... or even turkey for you crazy meat-eaters! And, of course, there's no reason not to serve it as a side dish on its own.
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Kelli September 22, 2004 05:41 PM PDT Irene, is that you again? =) I love winter squash, but rarely find myself actually buying it. I am so weird sometimes! This is definitely a recipe that will get me to eat squash more often.
Emily -- I did add the cranberries at the last minute. I can sympathize with your husband -- I never thought I'd eat fruits in savory dishes until fairly recently. I guess my tastes have finally grown up! But maybe he'd like the cranberries with the sweet squash...? If you come up with a variation on this dish, I'd LOVE to hear back from you to see what you came up with.
EmilyB September 22, 2004 01:04 PM PDT
Mmm, sounds good. I have a kabocha squash in the kitchen waiting for me to do something with it - it may wind up in a variation on this idea.
I take it the cranberries get added right at the end and cooked long enough to be warmed through? My husband and I disagree on the desirability of fruit in savory dishes (I love it, he doesn't), and if I can add the cranberries at the last minute to my portion only, he's more likely to actually eat his, instead of just tasting it and deciding he doesn't like it. <sigh>