This wonderful recipe is one of my very favorite things to do with delicata or sweet dumpling squashes. You can also use acorn squash for it, if you can’t find the other kinds. This recipe with either celery or fennel—extra-special with the fennel, but the crushed fennel seeds make up for the lack of fennel. It’s perfect for a Thanksgiving feast—or for anytime!! This is our contribution to the Nelson’s feast. (Along with fresh rosemary sourdough bread, of course, from our bakery!)
This stuffed squash recipe is based on one from Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens, one of my favorite books for soups and salads and vegetable dishes.
3 or 4 medium sweet dumpling or delicata squash
sea salt or kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Brush the flesh with olive oil and place the squash halves cavity side down on a baking sheet.
2. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just barely tender. (The squash will finish cooking after it’s filled.) Remove the squash from the oven, turn it cavity side up, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. While the squash is baking, prepare the filling.
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried currants
sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup wild rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or two small red or yellow onions
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, quartered lengthwise and diced (about 1 ½ cups) OR several stalks celery, diced, OR a combination of both, to make 1 ½ cups
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar & pestle
½ cup dry white wine
zest and juice of one orange
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted over low heat in a small skillet
1. In a small bowl, combine the golden raisins and currants; cover them with boiling water and set aside to plump.
2. Bring 1 ½ quarts of water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. When it boils, add ½ teaspoon salt and the wild rice. Lower the heat to a gentle boil; cover and cook until the grains are tender but still chewy, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the rice.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan; add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Saute over medium heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes, then add the fennel and/or celery and the crushed fennel seeds. Saute the fennel and/or celery for about 5 minutes, until it’s starting to soften, then add the garlic. Saute for a minute or two longer, then add the wine and simmer until the pan is nearly dry and the fennel/celery is tender.
4. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the rice with the sautéed onions and fennel; drain the fruit and add it to the rice mixture, along with the pine nuts, orange zest and juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. The filling should be very well seasoned.
5. Divide the filling among the squash halves and place in a baking dish with ¼ inch of water in the bottom. Cover with foil and bake until the filled squash is hot and steamy, about 30 to 40 minutes.
6. Serve hot or warm. These make fantastic leftovers, too, heated in the microwave.