Seems a little dangerous, no? Don’t worry, this acorn squash isn’t as sinful as it sounds. It’s forbidden because it is stuffed with forbidden black rice, an heirloom variety of rice cultivated in Asia. In ancient China, black rice was considered so superior and rare, it was reserved exclusively for the emperor and royalty. Common Chinese people were not allowed to grow or consume this black forbidden rice, which led to its unique name that it still carries today.
The deep purple/black pigment in this rice is an indication of its high levels of the antioxidant known as anthocyanin. Sources show that the anthocyanin content of black rice is higher than any other grain. Anthocyanin antioxidants have been known to help prevent cardiovascular disease, protect against cancer that can be caused by free radical damage, improve brain function, and reduce inflammation. In addition to beneficial pigments, colorful rice (black, red, brown) often contains higher amounts of minerals like iron and zinc, protein and fiber. Fiber is so important to digestive health, helping to remove toxins and other waste, prevent constipation, bloating, and improve overall bowel health.
I like this recipe because it is so colorful. Orange and black with flecks of red pomegranate gives this stuffed acorn squash a decidedly Halloween-y feel. These would also make a great addition to your Thanksgiving menu because they are festive and filling enough for your vegetarian friends.
As always, I recommend soaking grains overnight before cooking them. This increases their digestibility, helps deactivate phytic acid, and decreases cooking time (20 to 30 minutes after soaking compared to 50 minutes if you cook unsoaked rice). Simply rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer, mix it with warm water and a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and let sit, covered, overnight. Strain and rinse one more time before cooking.
Have you ever made black rice before? Let me know what you think of this recipe.
- 2 acorn squash
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup forbidden black rice, soaked overnight if possible
- 1 cup coconut milk (from a can)
- 1 cup water or broth
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tsp. chopped ginger
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cardamom
- pinch cayenne
- pinch salt
- 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 pomegranate, seeded
- Preheat oven to 425. Cut the acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, and rub with 1 tbsp. melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes, then flip them over and roast another 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set a side.
- Meanwhile, prepare rice. Combine coconut milk, water, rice, and a big pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20-50 minutes, depending on if you presoaked the rice.
- While the rice is cooking, heat a spoonful of coconut oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic, ginger, shallot, and celery. Cook for a few minutes, then add all the spices, and cook another 3-5 minutes, until softened. Mix this veggie/spice mixture in with the cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half the hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds.
- Scoop the rice into the acorn squash. Top with remaining hazelnuts, pomegranate, and some chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy.