Winter squash stuffed with wild rice is spectacular enough to have as a main dish. The key is to use real wild rice, not the cultivated rice trucked in from California. I had been making this dish or something like it for years, before I started working at the Gerald L Ignace Indian Health Center —an urban American Indian Health Center. During one of my healthy cooking classes, the culinary difference between the light & fluffy real wild rice and the tougher cultivated rice was brought home to me when one elder shared this joke with me: “How to Cook Paddy Rice—Place rice and stone in pot with water and cook over a low flame. When stone is soft, the rice is done.” Then we sat down and shared a meal of hand harvested wild rice. I haven’t gone back since. Real wild rice can be hard to find if you don’t know someone who rices, but thankfully a few local stores (Outpost, Future Green) started carrying Manoomin, Native Harvest’s wild rice from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota that may also be ordered online. As for the squash; one of my favorite varietals, the Sibley squash, is perfect for this dish, but the much more common butternut or acorn (really just about any squash) will do well. An antique apple, such as a Northwestern Greening would be lovely, but again, any variety of apple will do. This recipe should make enough for 8 or more people as a side dish.
- Winter squash ~ 1 medium
- Real Wild Rice ~ 1 cup
- Onion ~ 1 medium, diced
- Celeriac~ 1 small or Celery ~ 3 or 4 stalks, diced
- Apple ~ 1 medium, diced
- Mushrooms ~ 8 ounces, sliced
- Hazelnuts ~ ½ cup of toasted and chopped
- Dried Cranberries ~ ½ cup
- Fresh herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme ~ handful, chopped
- Butter ~ a pat
To make squash; Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out seeds (reserve for snacking or salads) and place face down on a pre-sprayed baking pan. Add about half an inch of water to the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven carefully and drain water. Turn over with spatula and let cool, carve a narrow trough into each squash, reserve squash meat and chop. Carve a furrow in each half of the squash into which the stuffing will go. Leave most of the meat on the squash. The meat you’ve carved out should be chopped and set aside to add to the stuffing.
To make wild rice; Rinse 1 cup of real wild rice. Bring rice to a boil with three cups of water and a pinch of salt, turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice has absorbed water, about twenty minutes.
To make dressing; sauté onion & celery in a sauté pan of warm butter until soft. Add apple and cook for a few more minutes. Mix together vegetables with herbs and wild rice. Season with a bit of salt & pepper, to taste. Pile the wild rice stuffing into the squash furrows. Slice into slabs and arrange on a platter for serving.