Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds and membrane.
Place the squash, upside down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.
While the squash bakes, start the stuffing.
Place the rice mix, vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, and 2 tablespoons of the orange zest in a large saucepan.
Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 45 minutes. Do not stir. Do not uncover.
Remove the rice mix from the stove and let it sit, covered for 10 minutes. Set aside until the squash is ready.
While the rice is cooking, toast the pecans in a single layer in a large skillet (no oil) on medium heat. Stir often, toasting for 7-8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly brown. Be careful not to burn. This can happen easily. Remove from the heat and place on a plate to stop cooking. Coarsely chop and set aside.
Uncover the rice and fluff it with a fork. Place it in a large mixing bowl.
Add the remaining orange juice and zest, the pecans, cranberries, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt to the rice. Stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Place the squash halves in a baking dish. Salt each half, if desired. Turn the oven down to 350°F.
Stuff the squash with the rice mixture, cover, and return to the oven for 12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and carefully cut each half in half again.
Serves: 8 (1/4 squash per person)
Wild rice mixes generally contain a several varieties of rice plus wild rice. The one that was used in this recipe had brown rice, red rice, black rice, and wild rice. Don’t use a mix that contains seasonings.
The rice can be cooked in a rice cooker. Simply place the ingredients in the inner liner and turn the appliance to the cook mode. It will stop cooking automatically and rest in the warm mode.
To make this side dish a meal, add 1 15-ounce can of either chickpeas or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, to the rice mixture before you stuff the squashes. This dish will feed 4 people. Serve the stuffed squash with a salad and a side of greens or your favorite vegetable.
This recipe makes a lot of rice stuffing. Either serve it on the side or refrigerate and steam leftovers for another meal.