Tuesday, November 23, 2021

ChezCindy: Roasted Acorn Squash with Chicken and Rice

Acorn squash is a versatile vegetable often roasted as a simple side dish, glazed with butter and brown sugar.  A method used to make a good accompaniment to roasted turkey at the holiday dinner table. 

 In this recipe, I am using the squash as a vessel for the main dish, filling the roasted halves with a creamy chicken and rice mix.  I use a medley of fresh herbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, to add flavor and color to the mix, hitting all the notes for a lovely autumn dinner.  

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chicken and Rice
2 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced white button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 cups of cooked rice or cauliflower rice
3 tablespoons cream

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut each acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds.  Place each half cut-side down on a cutting board.  Slice off a thin bit from the skin of the squash so that when turned over, the squash half will sit level on the baking tray.  This will keep the squash from wobbling around and spilling out the filling.  

Rub the cut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, placing cut-side down on a large heavy-duty baking sheet with sides.  Place the tray with the squash into the preheated oven, center-rack, roasting for roughly 30 minutes.  The squash flesh should feel tender when gently pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven, set aside to add the filling.  Turn off the oven.  

While the squash is roasting, place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  When the oil is hot, add in the ground chicken and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to break up the meat into small crumbles.  Cook until lightly browned.  Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate, set aside.  

Cook the diced onions in the same pan, stirring until soft.  Add in the diced mushrooms, tossing together with the onions.  If the pan is too dry, add in another tablespoon of oil.  When the mushrooms and onions are tender, add in the minced garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked chicken back to the pan with the cooked vegetables.  Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt, black pepper, red pepper, all of the chopped fresh herbs stirring to combine.  Add in the rice stir to combine.  Stir in the cream to coat the chicken and vegetables.  Turn off the heat.  

Bring it all together:  Turn on the broiler.  Keeping the squash on the roasting pan, turn each half cut-side up.  Generously fill each half with the creamy chicken and vegetable rice mixture.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated cheese onto the top of each filled squash.  Place the sheet tray with the filled squash under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned.  Carefully remove from the broiler, serve hot.  

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