This recipe has two components: some sweet garlic-roasted acorn squash and a hearty wheat berry stuffing with dried fruit and nuts. If that doesn’t sound like fall and harvest time, then I don’t even know what to say!
The wheat berries need a little bit of soaking leading up to cooking the stuffing, but other than that, the recipe is pretty simple. It’s also really customizable depending on what you’ve got in the pantry. You can use rice, millet, quinoa or any other grain as the base for the stuffing and sub in other vegetables, dried fruit or nuts. I was going for that hearty, classic stuffing flavor here and this combination worked out beautifully. This is also a great make ahead item. Just cook, assemble and hold the components and heat when you’re ready. Great, right?
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup wheat berries, soaked for at least a couple hours
- 1 tbsp grape seed oil
- 2 shallots, small dice (or 1 small-medium cooking onion)
- 1 celery stalk, small dice
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and small dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped up fine
- 1 sprig sage, leaves chopped up fine
- splash of white wine (alternatively you can squeeze a bit of lemon at the end or use a bit of white wine vinegar at the end too)
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock (or water)
- 1/2 cup dried sour cherries, chopped up roughly
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup fine nuts, toasted (I just slide them into the oven for a bit while the squash is cooking)
- 3 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped fine
- Start the grains: strain the wheat berries and place them in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until they are still a bit chewy (they will absorb more liquid later when making the stuffing). Drain if necessary.
- Cook the squash: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. season the inside with salt and pepper. Place the smashed garlic cloves on a parchment lined baking sheet with a good amount of space in between. Put the seasoned squash halves over the garlic cloves so that the squash form upside down bowls over the garlic cloves. Place in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scrape a bit of the cooked squash flesh out. It should amount to about a 1/4 cup. Set it all aside.
- Make the stuffing: heat the oil over medium and add the shallots. Cook until they begin to soften (4 minutes), add carrots, celery and the bay leaf. When the carrots and celery have softened up a teeny bit (about 4-5 minutes), add ground coriander, thyme, sage and dried cherries. Add the splash of white wine and stir the mixture around, scraping any bits off the bottom.
- Add the drained wheat berries to the saute pan and stir to coat them in the mixture. Add the vegetable stock and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the squash flesh you scraped out earlier and stir it around, incorporating it into the mixture (this will act like glue for the stuffing). Add the parsley and pine nuts, reserving a bit of both to garnish with at the end. Take off the heat.
- On the same lined baking sheet, fill the squash halves with the stuffing as much as you can (there may be some leftover). Slide them into the oven to heat through completely. Garnish with remaining pine nuts and parsley, serve.