I first got a glimpse – an outline – of this recipe, in one of those free recipe books that companies publish, this one from Sun-Maid. Not surprisingly, all the recipes in this particular booklet involved raisins. I tried their version of this recipe several times, loved it, and then promptly lost the booklet. So, what follows originally began with Sun-Maid, mutated by necessity and larder provisions, and then adapted to a particular season because it’s autumn. Lose the loose, colorful leaves and other autumn accessories in six months and you can call it a “Spring” recipe.
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 – 3 tbsp olive oil
4- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup raisins
½ cup craisins
1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, washed amp; coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ – 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
2 acorn squash, halved, seeded amp; baked
1. Prepare and bake the acorn squash. (Just cut them in half, clean out the seeds, fill with broth/wine/water, cover with foil and bake for an hour or two at 350*).
2. Toast the almond slivers while the oven is still warm, and begin to unbox your asian rice cookers to do the rice cooking!
3. Cook the rice according to either directions on the package or popping it into your rice cooker.
4. Heat a large lidded skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat.
5. De-stem and deseed pepper. Cut into 4-6 thin slices (for garnish) and dice the rest.
6. Add oil and garlic and stir until garlic begins to brown.
7. Add raisins and craisins and extra oil if needed and heat until plump.
8. Add spinach in batches, tossing quickly as each addition starts to wilt.
9. Add cooked rice, diced red bell pepper, feta cheese, salt and pepper. If you have the chance try to cook the rice on low heat in your large rice cooker.
10. Stir to combine. Spoon into acorn squash halves. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and garnish with a thin slice of red pepper.
• Served this way, the “salad” becomes an entire vegetarian dinner.
• Don’t be skimpy on the feta cheese if you don’t have to.
• Don’t tell the picky eaters at the table but this salad, minus the acorn squash, is ridiculously nutritious. One serving contains the following RDAs: 130% of Vitamin A, 100% of Vitamin C, 25% of Iron, 20% of Potassium, 17% of Dietary Fiber and 15% of Calcium. Including the nutritional value of the acorn squash would probably require this dish to be approved by the FDA.
• And for those of you who’d throw caution to the wind, you can always add some or all of a 1 lb. package of a nicely flavored sausage. Crumbled and cooked beforehand, of course.