Interlude -- Kitchen Overachiever, Part 2

I've been playing around with exploring more vegan recipes, and tonight I tried one that was quite good.  Thus, I will share it here (and put up a picture when I make my second batch).  The trick with vegan food is to cook things that are good without meat and dairy, rather than cutting them out of normal recipes and lamenting the loss of flavor/texture.  Since I've had to look into cooking more things from scratch, I've started to learn what more herbs and vegetables are for, and have by now explored nearly all of what is offered in Meijer's produce section.  Muah ha ha!

The following is from Supermarket Vegan, which is an interesting book, although I prefer to buy less canned stuff and find a lot of the recipes in the book have higher fat and sodium than I like.  This recipe is good: with 350 calories per serving, there's 13g protein, 9g fat, and 4g fiber (and nearly 600mg sodium... you can't win 'em all).

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Long Grain and Wild Rice, Pecans, and Cranberries

(makes 4 main dish servings)

2 medium acorn squash, halved, seeds and membranes removed
1T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
2 T dry sherry or cooking sherry
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2-1/3C low-sodium vegetable broth (chicken broth works too, if you're not vegetarian)
3/4 C wild rice mix (I like Lundberg Jubilee)
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/4 C pecans, slivered almonds, or walnut pieces
2 T chopped fresh sage
1/2 t salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425˚F.
Cut a very thin parallel slice on the uncut sides of the squash to help them sit upright without wobbling. Place the squash, cut sides down, in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add about 1/2" water to the pan. Cover and bake 45 minutes, until flesh is fork-tender. Remove from oven, pour off water, and turn the squash cut sides up; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and garlic and increase the heat to high; cook, stirring constantly, until the sherry has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the broth, rice mixture, cranberries, pecans, sage, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to between low and medium-low, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, but the mixture is still quite moist (follow the time guidelines on the rice you bought). Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

Mound equal amounts of the rice mixture into the squash halves. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

This is a really tasty recipe, especially if you like squash.  It's important to actually go and pick up fresh sage for this recipe - it really sets the aroma, and hence the flavor, of the rice.  The smell while the rice is cooking is really quite fantastic, it kind of reminded me of the way breakfast sausage smells, which leads me to suspect that sage has a place on my dinner table, and not just at Scarborough Fair.  Also, be careful about adding too much salt, especially if you use cooking sherry, since it has a lot of salt already.

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