I was reading the local fishwrapper, better known as the San Francisco Chronicle, last Sunday and came across a marvelous article I hope you all read.
If you didn't, read it now - you'll thank me.
It showcases several area organic farmers and each farmer has contributed a recipe using what they grow. So many cool ideas for Thanksgiving - and earlier.
Like right now.
I have never thought of stuffing a squash. Now, that's crazy, because squashes all come with a hollow where the seeds and strings used to be, just begging for something to fill it up. I've seen soup served in pumpkins and my mother used to fill the hollow of acorn squash with a dab of butter and brown sugar to tempt us, but somehow I have until now missed the simple brilliance of making stuffing not for the bird but for the squash.
I was so inspired that I immediately got out the butternut I've been harboring in the crisper for a week wondering what to do with it. I could always roast it, or make soup, or whatever, but nothing appealed until the article sparked an idea.
I decided to use a rice stuffing, starting with that killer Massa brown rice and some bacon we had left over from breakfast. Five or six little brown mushrooms, a big yellow onion... it sprang nearly fully formed in my head.
First, I halved the squash and set it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper in a 350 degree F oven for about half an hour, until it pierced easily with a knife. I cooked the rice separately in chicken stock while the squash baked. While all that was happening, I chopped about four rashers of the bacon and browned the bits in a wide pan. After the bacon was nearly done, I reserved half of it, leaving half in the pan, poured off the extra grease and sautéed the onion and mushrooms in the same pan. Once the squash came out of the oven, I scooped out a trench in the neck of the roasted squash, minced the scoopings, and added them to the stuffing mixture.When the rice was done, I mixed it in and stuffed it all into the halved, roasted, seed-and-neck-scooped squash.
Back into the oven for a nice warming - perhaps 20 minutes - and it was ready to serve. Sprinkled with chopped green onion, the rest of the bacon, and s&p.
I had a small squash and that's all we had for dinner except a couple of spears of steamed broccoli, so each of us got an entire half to eat, but if you make a large squash, you can cut it into slices to serve and save the rest.
It was hearty and filling, rich with harvest flavors. The mushrooms added depth, the bacon added heft and the onions added sweetness. And if you've never tried Massa rice, you are missing a major treat - I was never a brown rice fan until I found Massa.
This is fare that will make you look forward to harvest time.