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Originally published Wednesday, November 8, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Recipe: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Dried Fruit and Hickory-Baked Tofu

Serves 8 as a main dish or 16 as a side dish

Squash:

- 4 small acorn squash

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- Freshly ground black pepper

-Freshly ground nutmeg

- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

-½ cup water

Rice:

- 1 ½ cups wild rice mix (see Notes *)

- 3 cups vegetable broth

- ¼ teaspoon salt

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- 1/3 cup quartered dried figs

- 1/3 cup dried cranberries or chopped dried cherries

Vegetables:

- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

- 2 cups stemmed and torn red chard leaves, cut into slivers

-1 large shallot, minced

- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced

- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced

- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

- 2 tablespoons lemon juice

- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley, divided

- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

- Optional: 1 package (6 ounces) hickory-baked tofu, drained and cut into ¼-inch dice (see Notes **)

- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. To prepare squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the squash in several places. Place two at a time in a microwave and cook 4 minutes on high, rotating halfway through time. Repeat with remaining squash. This will make cutting the squash in half a little easier.

2. Cut a thin slice off ends of squash. Then cut each in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard seeds and strings. Place in a large roasting pan and sprinkle squash with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Dot each half with some butter. Pour ½ cup water around squash. Cover pan with foil and bake about 45 minutes, or until squash are moist and tender when pierced with a knife. Pour off any liquid that may be left in pan, and set squash aside.

3. To prepare rice: Combine rice, vegetable broth and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 40 minutes. Stir in dried figs and cranberries or cherries and continue cooking 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover and set aside 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

4. To prepare vegetables: In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add chard, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan. Add shallot, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, rosemary and salt. Sauté until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard and cook 1 minute. Fold vegetables into rice. Add pine nuts, lemon juice, half of parsley, Parmesan and tofu if using. Spoon into squash. Dot with butter. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until heated through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining parsley over tops.

Notes:

* We used Lundberg Wild Blend in this recipe. It's a combination of wild and whole-grain brown rice that's very flavorful with a good texture.

** This recipe can also be used as a side dish without the tofu.

Idea from "The Thanksgiving Table" by Diane Morgan

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