You know what’s fun? Whipping up a festive, yummy recipe in the kitchen, like this stuffed acorn squash right here. You know what’s not fun? Causing yourself detrimental bodily harm in the process. No, I did not touch a hot pan sans potholder. And no, I did not accidentally slice a finger off (although that would have made for a far better story). Nope, I did something a whole lot dumber. I gave my skin a good ol’ case of the pepper burns. You see, I was distracted when I decided to roast my poblano pepper (because distraction + open flames + hot peppers make a great combination), and I kind of pretty much basically forgot I was cooking with a hot pepper and thought it was a regular pepper. So I sliced it, diced it and rubbed all of that skin off with my two bare hands. I proceeded to make the rest of the recipe and everything seemed totally fine. Until I went to photograph it…. and an excruciating, crippling pain completely took over my hands. Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about, because you’re smart enough to remember to wear gloves when you cut hot peppers? Well, let me paint you a little picture. It feels like 1,000’s of tiny little flames are being attached to tiny little daggers that are being thrown at your skin at a constant high-speed stream. Basically, it’s like a mini-mordor attacking your skin. And that kids, is why, you should never cook when you’re thinking about those shoes you should have bought and all of the outfits that you could have worn with them. One half hour milk bath, a few scrubs of baking soda, a large amount of dish soap, and a few splashes of whiskey later you now have a really delicious recipe that is healthy (it is gluten-free and I’ve included vegan and dairy-free options) and works perfectly as a side dish served with fish or meat or as a main dish served with salad (think main dish options at Thanksgiving for those who don’t eat meat). My pain is clearly your gain….
- 1 cup wild rice blend (see notes)
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 4 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 cup spinach (I used frozen spinach)
- 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (see notes)
- 1 acorn squash
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (you can use cheddar, Monterey, swiss, etc, however, cheese is optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise. Place the two halves, cut-side down, in a glass baking dish and add about 1/4-1/2 an inch of water. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife can easily be inserted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to where you can easily handle the squash.
- Once the squash has cooled, use a spoon or serrated knife (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) to scoop out the seeds. Set the squash halves aside.
- Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring the water and bouillon cube to a boil over high heat. Add in the rice, reduce the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking until the rice has absorbed all the liquid (you may need to add a little more water if the rice is still not fully cooked).
- While the rice is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then add in the onion. Cook for 5 minutes before adding in the mushrooms. Continue sautéing until the vegetables have become golden brown and caramelized. Toss in the spinach and pepper and continue cooking until it has heated through.
- Once the rice has finished cooking, combine it with the vegetables. Place the 2 squash halves, cut-side up, back into the glass baking dish. Generously fill the squash with the rice mixture. Top with grated cheese, if desired. Place back in the oven (at 400 degrees) and cook until the cheese is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- This recipe is gluten-free, but be sure to read the labels for the rice you use as some brands add in gluten flavoring or fillers. For my recipe I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice.
- To make this recipe dairy-free, vegetarian & vegan, use a vegetable bouillon in place of the chicken bouillon, olive oil in place of the butter, and omit the cheese.
- The squash and rice can each be prepared the day before then assembled and heated right before serving. Simply store everything in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- For the peppers- If you have a gas stove, the easiest way to roast the poblano pepper is to turn a burner onto medium heat and place the pepper directly onto the flame. Use tongs to rotate it until the skin has charred and bubbled on every side. Remove the pepper and place it directly in a bowl of room temperature water. Using gloved hands gently rub/peel off the charred skin. Remove the top and insides of the pepper then proceed to use it as you wish. To roast the peppers in an oven, simply spray the peppers with cooking spray, then place them on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Place them in an oven set to broil and cook until charred and bubbled. Proceed as you would with a pepper roasted on the stovetop. However you choose to roast your peppers, PLEASE REMEMBER TO WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING THEM.
Lundberg Wild Rice Blend
How to roast a poblano pepper in the oven (see the recipe notes for how to roast it with a gas burner)