Stuffed Delicata Squash

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A one-cup serving of delicata squash contains more than a full day’s worth of beta carotene, is high in fiber and vitamin C, and offers up a wealth of antioxidants… all for only 40 calories.  This hearty, sweet yellow squash serves as the perfect base for a satisfying filling of tart cherries, earthy shiitake mushrooms, and crunchy celery in a wild rice blend.  Enjoy!

picture409Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

1 delicata squash, about 7 inches long

1/2 cup wild rice blend

1 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup dried tart cherries

1/4 cup chopped celery, leaves included

picture4291 large shiitake mushroom

Directions

Step 1) Bring wild rice blend and vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.  Check every 10 minutes.  Add additional broth or water (2  tablespoons at a time) if rice is picture430beginning to dry before it is tender.

Step 2) While rice is cooking, poke whole squash deeply with a fork about 10 times.  Microwave the whole, uncut squash for 6 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Step 3) Carefully cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Lightly season the squash halves with salt and pepper if desired, and set aside.

Step 4) Add dried cherries, chopped celery, and sliced mushroom to wild rice blend during last 5 minutes of cooking.  Cover.

Step 5) After 5 minutes, spoon rice filling carefully into each squash half.  Done!

Balsamic Glazed Farro with Mushrooms and Cherries

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If you’ve never tried farro, you’re in for a treat.  Farro is an ancient whole grain containing 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat, and 200 calories per cup.  By any measure, it’s a wholesome, filling food!  Farro offers a chewy texture similar to wheat berries, a mild nutty flavor reminiscent of quinoa, and cooks like rice.  It’s inexpensive, and readily available in the bulk food section of many markets.

My first experience with farro was at a steakhouse, and what a pleasant surprise it was!  I’ve learned not to assume that a restaurant will offer a spectacular vegetarian meal just because it offers a wide range of highly reputed steaks – sometimes the lone vegetarian entrée on the menu is ho-hum at best.  Not this time.  My farro arrived bedecked with tart cherries and earthy mushrooms, all drizzled with a lovely balsamic reduction.  Inspired by that meal, I’ve created a similar dish for you.

picture659Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as an entrée)

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 cups water

1 cup farro (dry)

1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced thick

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

picture6604 cups baby leaf spinach

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

Step 1) Add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and simmer.  Continue simmering the vinegar (as you proceed with the remainder of the recipe) until it has been reduced to a final volume of 1/4 cup.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 2)  Add 2 cups of water to a medium-size pot and bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Save liquid!

Step 3) Add 1 cup of dry farro to the mushroom cooking liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Step 4) Add 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms, 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, and your reserved porcini mushrooms to the farro.  Stir and simmer, covered, for an additional 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed (think of cooking rice).

Step 5)  Arrange baby spinach on serving plates.  Spoon farro mixture over spinach, and drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Enjoy!