The third year, I got a break, as a family of groundhogs saw to it that we didn’t get to enjoy a single crop. This is the year I have dubbed “The Summer of Squash.” In the interest of keeping this story short I will say that I almost look nostalgically back at the Summer of Too Many Tomatoes. I adore the little butternuts, but there are a couple of unidentified varieties that just won’t stop, and which are not all that versatile or easy to deal with. I have told the hubby in no uncertain terms, “no squash next year.”
This week a new ally came to my doorstep, literally, as I received a trio of rice blends to try — RiceSelect Royal Blend® rices to be exact — from RiceSelect™ (one of the fun perks of running VegKitchen is getting to test interesting food products from time to time). These rice blends are as lovely to look at as they are to taste, and I love the idea of going beyond plain brown rice. As soon as the weather turns cool I opt for whole grains more frequently, and one of the ways I like to use them is for stuffing veggies. I thank RiceSelect™ not only for generously supplying me with these delectable rice blends to experiment with, but for giving VegKitchen readers a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card for using toward RiceSelect™ products. Sweepstakes rules are at the bottom of this post, after the recipe.
When I use and review products on VegKitchen, I only write about those I fully endorse, and these RiceSelect blends are wonderful. The mixtures of rice with other grains, legumes, and flaxseeds gives any rice dish a special touch. You might find them in the rice section of well-stocked supermarkets. To purchase, use the RiceSelect store locator or buy online at Amazon.com, as product availability may be limited.
The Royal Blend® with Quinoa used here contains not only light brown rice but red quinoa and freekeh (a form of whole-grain wheat). It’s so flavorful in and of itself that I kept the pilaf stuffing simple. Squashes vary in terms of how large a hollow they offer for stuffing, so no worries if you have more of the rice pilaf than what they’ll comfortably hold — you can simply use any that remains as a yummy side dish.
Serves: 4 as a main dish; 8 as a side dish
- 4 small hard or semi-hard squashes, such as acorn, golden acorn,
very small butternut, or any that have a symmetrical oblong shape
- 1 1/4 cups cup Rice Select Royal Blend® with Quinoa
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or water
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion (or 1/2 large), finely chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or water
- 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
- 2 teaspoons mixed seasoning blend (like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Small squashes are easy to prepare by microwaving. Simply allow 3 to 4 minutes on High per squash, or until it is easily pierced with a sharp knife, but not mushy. You can also use the easy directions for baking in the oven in this post on How to Tame Winter Squashes. You can do this step ahead of time.
Combine the rice and vegetable broth in a large saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the broth is absorbed. If you prefer a more tender grain, add 1/2 cup additional broth or water, and cook until absorbed.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper and continue to sauté until all are soft and golden. Once the rice is done, add it to the skillet along with the remaining ingredients.
Stir together and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, or until nicely heated through. When the squashes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half through the stem ends. Remove and discard the seeds and fibers.
Hollow them out, leaving a sturdy shell, about 1/4 inch thick. Some squashes have more flesh to remove than others, once the seeds are gone. Whatever squash flesh you have, chop it finely and stir into the rice mixture. Stuff the cavities in the squashes with the rice mixture generously, without overstuffing. Sprinkle extra minced dill over the tops for garnish. If both the squashes and rice mixture are still warm, you can serve as is, but if need be, you can arrange in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and warm in a 350º F. oven until piping hot, just before serving. Serve two halves per person as a main dish; or one half per person as a side dish.
To be entered into the drawing to win a $100 VISA Gift Card simply leave a comment letting me know: What would you name this dish?
No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: a. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post b:Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c: Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d: For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 10/7/2013-11/7/2013 Be sure to visit the RiceSelect brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers reviews and find more chances to win!