Stuffed Acorn Squash with Millet, Spinach, Cranberries, and Hemp Seeds
Who says millet is just for the birds? Not anymore, it’s not! This old-world gluten-free grain is high protein and delicately flavored. It’s the perfect stand-in for couscous if you cook it right. Read on for the most delicious stuffed squash, packed full of nutrients galore. And so easy! I was shocked by how much my kids loved this, and I will be making it in heavy rotation now.
1/2 cup millet
11/2 cups water
2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet or yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 (5- to 6-ounce) bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds, toasted (see note)
4 heaping teaspoons fine gluten-free breadcrumbs (I like Ener-G for this)
4 heaping teaspoons Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread or olive oil
1. Combine the millet and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, for 18 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Don’t stir the millet or it will become creamy. You want it to cook up like rice, and refraining from stirring will accomplish this.
2. Meanwhile, spray the insides of the acorn squash halves with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place face down on a large microwave-safe dish (I just use the microwave tray). Cover (I use a large mixing bowlâ€”it’s okay if the squash halves have to overlap a bit) and cook for 16 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cranberries and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, stir, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the hemp seeds.
4. While the millet is cooking, preheat the broiler on high.
5. Once the millet is cooked, fluff it lightly with a fork. Combine 1 cup of the millet with the spinach mixture and toss. Put the squash halves cut side up in a broiler-safe pan or on a rimmed baking tray. Divide the filling evenly among the squash halves, mounding it slightly. Top each squash half with â€¨1 heaping teaspoon breadcrumbs and dot each with 1 heaping teaspoon buttery spread. Broil â€¨8 inches from the heat source for 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.
* Note: To toast hemp seeds, heat a small frying pan or â€¨skillet over medium heat. Add the hemp seeds and â€¨cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden â€¨and aromatic.
“Reprinted with permission from Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and Sesame by Cybele Pascal (Ten Speed Press, © 2012). Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews.”