Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wheat Berry-Stuffed Winter Squash

Turn wheat berries into a hearty stuffing for this visually-arresting entree. Choose acorn squash that are about 1 pound each (many at the store these days seem to be twice if not three times that size).

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup uncooked wheat berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 chopped dry-roasted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  • Cilantro sprigs (optional for garnish)
1. Heat the canola oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, wheat berries, and mustard seeds; saute for 3 minutes.

2. Add the cashews, ginger, and jalapeno; saute for 2 minute.

3. Add the water, salt, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours - the wheat berries should be tender.  Stir in the minced cilantro and lemon juice, then set aside.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the squash: cut in half lengthwise, and discard the seeds.  Combine the maple syrup and cinnamon in a small bowl, and brush evenly over the squash.  Place the squash on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, cut sides down, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, until tender.

5. Divide the wheat berry mixture evenly among the squash halves (about 3/4 cup per half).  Because the liquid doesn't fully absorb during cooking, ladle the mixture out with a slotted spoon. Garnish with cilantro sprigs for a pretty presentation, if desired. 

For more fun with wheat berries, see my post for Wheat Berry, Black Bean, and Vegetable Stew. If this stuffing doesn't intrigue you, try my recipe for Roasted Squash Stuffed with Corn Bread Dressing.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 stuffed squash half), Calories 319

Tasting Notes:
The wheat berry mixture is savory and complex, with delectable tidbits of cashew and jalapeno (although I sadly couldn't taste much ginger). The acorn squash is just heavenly, with a sweet maple-cinnamon coating that felt almost buttery after baking. What I didn't love about the dish was the presentation (aesthetics aside). Either I would serve this more like a pilaf, with cubed acorn squash, maple syrup, and cinnamon stirred right into the saucepan with everything else, or I would leave the wheat berry mixture in the excess broth and serve like a stew.  The current presentation did not make the best use of that delectably tender acorn squash, which got buried underneath the stuffing.


Vegan extra:
I've been having a bit of fun lately with probiotics. Don't be fooled into thinking you need to eat dairy yogurt and kefir to obtain these good-for-your bacteria, even though those are the sources most cited in health articles. Do make sure, however, that your probiotics are grown in a non-dairy medium.

I learned the hard way that one always needs to double-check when it comes to probiotics while enjoying Stonyfield's O'Soy yogurt back in 2007. Who ever heard of a soy yogurt that didn't bother to be vegan? Good lord.

Instead, try Whole Soy yogurts:

There's even coconut milk kefir from So Delicious, to help you obtain billions of these "live active cultures."

Supplements are another option. Companies that grow their bacteria in a non-dairy medium include New Chapter Organics and SunBiotics.

1 comment:

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