Saturday, 25 April 2015

Baked Acorn Squash, Stuffed with Chicken and Rice

I had an acorn squash waiting to be used, and when I remembered some leftover rice that was in the fridge I knew this would be a great combination. I added some cooked leftover chicken, cheese and barbecue sauce and used it to stuff the squash.

Cut the acorn squash in half, and scoop out the seeds.

Put it cut side down in a shallow dish, with about 1/2" of water, and bake in a 350F oven until tender when gently squeezed.

Remove from the oven and allow the squash to cool.

To make the filling, combine the following:

2 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup diced cooked chicken
2 chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste

When the filling is combined, stir in:

2 tablespoons of Barbecue sauce

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Scoop the filling into the 2 halves of squash, mounding it slightly.

Sprinkle with grated cheddar.

Place in a 350F oven, and bake until the squash and the filling are heated through, and the cheese is melted and bubbling.

  • Any leftover cooked starch can be substituted for the rice. Try quinoa, barley, brown rice (I used basmati rice), small pasta such as orzo or macaroni, or mashed potatoes. If you like lentils, these can also be used, as can beans of any type.
  • I had chicken in the fridge, but any cooked meat can be added to the starch. Crumbled sausage, diced ham or bacon, shrimp, flaked cooked fish, diced cooked pork or beef or even pulled pork.
  • Add fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or basil. Spices such as cayenne pepper, chili powder or ground cumin will also be great.
  • I was out of frozen corn, but would have added some. Other vegetables to add include diced red peppers, beans, chopped cooked spinach or kale, cooked mushrooms, leftover grilled or roasted vegetables, diced tomatoes.
  • Cheese is a personal preference, and the person who was eating this loves cheddar. Pepper Jack, Swiss or smoked mozzarella would make nice alternatives.
  • The cream cheese adds moisture and creaminess. Soft goat cheese can be used if you prefer the tartness. Use extra barbecue instead, or another sauce such as cream sauce,  Basil Pesto or Basic Tomato Sauce.
  • Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, gem squash, zucchini that have been halved lengthwise or even small pumpkins can be stuffed.
  • The squash can be baked and stuffed a day ahead of time, and kept well wrapped in the fridge. Once it is baked it will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge. It can also be frozen, but doesn't hold it's shape well after freezing. Frozen squash is best used for purees in soups or lasagne.
  • Instead of stuffing the squash, slice it (peeled or unpeeled) into 1" thick slices. Layer these in an ovenproof dish, with pecans, caramelized onions and thinly sliced apples or pears. Add a bit of apple juice or cider. Cover with foil and bake until tender. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and allow the sugar to start bubbling before serving.

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