Foothill gourmet: Vegan meal

By From page B2 | October 14, 2013

Donna BrownI have a dear friend, Wilma, that I’ve known for 43 years. After meeting we went on a bicyclying tour of Hawaii. She recently became vegan. When we have her and Jackson to our house, we always make a vegan dinner.

Today’s column feautures vegan stuffed acorn squash with wild rice medly. For meat lovers, augment the stuffed acorn squash with ground meat or ground chicken. My husband augmented his and Jackson’s with a few ounces of Italian sausage.

Stuffed acorn squash with wild rice medly — For the acorn squash use 2 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme divided, and sea salt.

For the wild rice medly — 1/2 cup wild rice and 1/2 cup long grain brown rice is great (any other ratio of wild rice to long grain brown rice will also work), 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 small red bell pepper diced, 1 large shallot diced, 2 large handfuls of greens (a 5 ounce package of mixed greens works well or any baby kale, baby chard or baby spinach). We used baby spinach as we already had it in our refrigerator, 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans drained, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in halves and seed the squash. In an oven proof pan, (I used Corning Ware) fill pan half full with water and place on the bottom rack. This helps steam the squash while it bakes, making it deliciously moist. Place cut squash on a baking sheet cut side up. Season each sqaush with 1/4 teaspoon thyme and a small sprinkling of sea salt. Bake for 40-45 minutes until tender. Squash will be tender when a knife easily slides into the flesh. Cook wild rice and brown rice according to package directions.

Rice preparation: Cook wild rice seperately, as it needs more water and a longer cooking time than long grain rice. Use three times as much water for the wild rice. Simmer until the wild rice grains burst about 40-45 minutes. The wild rice is done when the grains open up and burst, you will see that the wild rice grains have burst. If there is left over water from the wild rice, drain it. For 1/2 cup of wild rice, I used 1 1/2 cups water. For long grain brown rice, use two times as much water, plus an additional 1/4 cup. For 1/2 cup brown rice, I used 1 1/4 cups water. The added water makes the rice more tender.

Once the squash and rices are cooked, set aside to cool. Begin with the vegetables. In a large wok or large sauté pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, beans, 1 tablespoon thyme, a few twists of salt and pepper. Cook another 3 minutes. Add leafy greens, stir frequently until they are wilted. Combine rice with the sautéed vegetables in the wok. Taste mixture for seasoning adding additional thyme, salt and pepper as needed. Scoop mixture into each acorn squash half and oven reheat lightly to warm all the ingredients.

Enjoy a welcoming winter dinner with uncomparable flavor.

Donna Brown

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