Searching for a new recipe recently for a ‘Meatless Monday’ meal was a cinch. My main goal was to make a savoury meal that used ingredients that said “autumn”.

I have to admit that the abundance of so many wonderful locally grown squash along with wild and baby portobello mushrooms at the roadside fruit and vegetable market near where I live were two of the reasons for choosing to make the following delicious recipe.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash

The recipe has two main stages: cooking the squash and cooking the filling. These steps are followed by a quick trip under the broiler.

I prepared the filling in a very large cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid, since the rice (and all the goodies added to it) needs to simmer in the stock until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Rather than use water to cook the rice mixture, I used some homemade chicken stock, to add more savoury flavour – a store-bought low sodium product will work equally well.

Also, instead of using white rice which many recipes call for, I chose to swap it out for a wild rice mix with some added short grain brown rice.

The brand of rice I prefer to use is Lundberg, especially since I wanted to make my filling more like a risotto and their brown rice has an almost Arborio rice quality to it when cooked. I combined it with their wild rice mix; it’s very whole grainy and nutty and full of interesting texture and flavour which I figured would add to the autumnal factor as well.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup wild rice mix
  • ¼ cup short grain brown rice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. dried Thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 medium vidalia or white onion, diced finely
  • 1½ cups baby portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup wild mushrooms, such as shitake, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top

1. Prepare the Squash

Preheat oven to 350ºF

The squash should be sliced in half to make two pieces with a stuffable cavity. Scoop out the seeds of one large acorn squash and slice a bit off the bottom of each half so that once they’re cooked you can then rest them flat when placed on an oven proof baking sheet to be filled.

Lay the squash halves cut sides down in a deep sided baking tray filled with water so that the water is half way up the sides of the squash. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for approximately 40 minutes – until knife tender. Set aside.

2. Prepare the filling

In a large cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid:

  • Sauté the diced onion in the butter and olive oil on medium heat until transparent
  • Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme, stirring gently until the mushrooms are cooked and tender. (Add more olive oil or butter if the mixture becomes too dry.)
  • Turn up the heat to medium high and quickly add the rice to the onion/mushroom mixture and stir together for about a minute. You want to sort of toast the rice a bit but not scorch it.
  • Raise the heat to high and pour in the chicken stock plus the chicken bouillon cube stirring constantly.
  • Once it all comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot and let simmer until the rice is cooked and the stock has all been absorbed by the rice. (Check on it often as it simmers and give it a stir.)
  • Taste the mixture for seasoning and adjust as needed, and also test for the doneness of the rice. If the rice isn’t done, add some more stock and bring back to a simmer until desired doneness is achieved.
  • Stir in the dried cranberries.
  • Remove from heat.

3. Fill ’em Up

  • Remove a couple of large spoonfuls of the cooked squash and stir into the rice/mushroom filling. (Just take out a small amount of the squash flesh from each half to make room for the filling to fit in the squash’s cavity.)
  • Add the parmesan cheese and stir everything together.
  • Place the two squash halves face up on a broiler-proof baking tray and fill with the mixture and cover the tops with plenty more parmesan. (I actually patted the extra cheese onto the mound of rice mixture on each squash to make it stick.)
  • Slide the squash under the broiler for a minute or two or until the tops are bubbling and the cheese is melted. Keep your oven door ajar and an eye on them as they brown up quite fast! No one wants a burnt cheese topping!

You can serve these delicious squash with a green salad if desired or just as they are.

All in all, this first time cooking adventure was met with oohs and ahs by my always-adventurous culinary partner, and a request to repeat the meal the following Monday. Yay!