Stuffed Acorn Squash

Start 2 cups of Trader Joe's California Wild Rice in a rice steamer or on the stove. To speed up the process, you can use an instant rice, but the result is not as good.

 While the rice is steaming, Slice 1 Acorn Squash from the Produce section in half, scoop out seeds, and place face-down on a Jelly Roll pan with a half-inch of water. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 minutes, or till flesh of the squash is steamed and almost tender.

While the squash is baking, in a LARGE skillet, cook 1/2 pound of Trader Joe's Spicy italian Sausage (it comes in links, I usually remove it from the casing and break it up into small pieces). When the sausage is nearly done, add 1 whole red onion, chopped, a Red Pepper and a Yellow Pepper, chopped, and 1-3 baby red or baby yukon gold potatoes, chopped small or thinly sliced. If desired, add any other veggies...I've used asparagus, carrots, zucchini, and even green beans and eggplant pieces.

Sautee the sausage and vegetable mix lightly, and add about 1/3 cup dry red wine, and season to taste. I like to add fresh thyme when I have it on hand, but the sausage often seasons the mix well enough. When wine is nearly cooked off, add about 2 cups of sliced small mushrooms, or, even better, 2 portabellos chopped into bite-size pieces. Mix the wild rice right into the skillet with the veggies. This mix might be a little wet.

Remove the Squash from the oven, and pour off the water from the pan. Turn the halves sliced-side up, and spoon a table spoon of butter or olive oil into each half, then salt and pepper well. With a large spoon, scoop the rice-and veggie mix into each half of the squash, and heap it up. scoop the remainder of the rice and veggie mix into the jelly roll pan.

Place the pan back in the oven and back at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the rice mix has crisped a little on top. Remove from oven, and slice the acorn squash halves into fourths and serve right in the skin, with an extra scoop of the rice mix from the pan. This is a great, hearty winter dish with plenty of variations possible by using different seasonal vegetables.

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