About this recipe:Here's an attractive and fun way to serve small winter squashes – filled with a mixture of wild and white rice, chestnuts, dried cranberries and mozzarella cheese. Individual squashes such as acorn, onion or gem, or small pumpkins, are all suitable. It makes an impressive vegetarian main course for a winter dinner.
200 g (7 oz) mixed basmati and wild rice
4 small acorn squashes, about 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) each
185 g (6½ oz) cooked chestnuts (canned or vacuum packed), roughly chopped
75 g (2½ oz) dried cranberries
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped parsley
150 g (5½ oz) mozzarella cheese, grated
salt and pepper
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Put the rice in a saucepan, add 400 ml (14 fl oz) water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes or until the rice is just tender. Drain off any excess water.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Using a large, sharp knife, slice off the top quarter (stalk end) of each squash. Set aside these little hats, then scoop out the seeds and fibres from the centre of the squashes using a small spoon. Trim the bases to make them level. Season the cavity of each squash with salt and pepper, then place them in a large ovenproof dish or roasting tin.
Mix together the rice, chestnuts, cranberries, onion, thyme, parsley and mozzarella in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the rice stuffing into the cavity of each squash, pressing it down and mounding it up neatly on top. Replace the reserved ‘hats’ on top. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the flesh of the squash is tender when pierced with a small, sharp knife. Serve hot.