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Acorn Squash with Pecan and Fruit Stuffing
Appliance: Slow Cooker - 6 quarts and larger
Also Requires: Rice Cooker - 6 cup capacity and larger
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This Gluten Free, Meat Free recipe is perfect for Holiday dinners
   3 – 4 small acorn squash
   Salt and pepper, to taste
   1/2 cup water

For the Stuffing:
   1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
   2 tablespoons butter or cooking oil
   2 large celery stalks, diced
   1 large carrot, peeled and diced
   1 cup onion, finely diced
   1 tablespoon fresh thyme
   1 1/2 cups wild rice
   3 1/2 cups lower sodium chicken, turkey or vegetable broth
   1 bay leaf
   1/2 cup dried cranberries
   1/4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
   1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
   1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped
   1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
   Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash squash. Using a vegetable cleaver, cut in half through the stem to the base. If you don't have a cleaver, you can first slice off the stem end (which can be very tough to cut through). Scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the flesh with a little bit of salt and pepper.

Pour the water into the bottom of your slow cooker's crock or inner bowl. Put squash into the crock, skin side down, stacking them as necessary. Cover and cook on high until flesh is soft throughout, about 3 hours. Cooked squash will stay warm in the covered slow cooker (on Off) for 30 to 40 minutes, or on Keep Warm for 60 to 90 minutes, while you prepare the stuffing.

Add pecans to the inner bowl of your rice cooker and push Cook button. Use saute setting, if available. Toast, stirring frequently, until pecans darken slightly and become fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

Add butter to the inner bowl of your rice cooker and push Cook button. Use saute setting, if available. When butter has melted, add celery, carrot, onion and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in wild rice, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook until rice is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Use brown rice or wild rice setting, if available.

Switch rice cooker to Keep Warm. Remove bay leaf and discard. Stir in dried fruit. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cooked stuffing can be kept in the rice cooker, on Keep Warm, for up to 1 hour. Stir in pecans and parsley just before stuffing the squash.

Generously spoon stuffing into the cavity of the cooked squash, mounding extra stuffing above the top of the squash, if desired, and serve. Stuffed squash can be restacked in the slow cooker, if space allows, and held on Keep Warm, or Low for 30 minutes before serving.

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