A Healthy and Uplifting Alternative to Standard Party Fare

With fall on the horizon once again, party themes will soon turn from backyard barbecues to pigskin parties with all the football fixings. As a result, party hosts must keep up with the changing seasons and alter their menus accordingly.

When it comes to the seasons, it helps to look for foods that are newly in season when preparing the menu. It also helps to consider the guests and their individual needs. San Francisco-based chef Rebecca Katz teaches culinary solutions to people navigating cancer treatments and its aftereffects. Party hosts looking to greet guests in similar situations should consider the following recipe for "Baby Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Rice Medley" courtesy of Katz's "One Bite at a Time" (Celestial Arts). Baby dumpling squash typically is available at the farmer's market in fall, making it an ideal alternative to more traditional fare.

Baby Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Rice Medley

Serves 6

Squash

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 to 8 baby dumpling squash, tops cut off, center and seeds scooped out

Rice Medley

1 cup Lundberg brown and wild rice blend

1 cup Emporia's Forbidden Rice or Lundberg Japonica Rice

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced yellow onion

1 cup peeled and diced celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

2 pippin, Granny Smith or Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 cup dried cranberries, currents or raisins

1 cup chopped, roasted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the olive oil, salt, allspice, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon. Brush the insides of the squash with the spice mixture. Arrange the squash cut side down on the prepared sheet pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Check them at 20 minutes, touching the top of a squash with your finger. If they're soft, remove them from the oven and cover with foil until ready for assembly.

To make the rice medley, in two saucepans bring 2 cups of water in each to a boil with 1/2 teaspoon salt in each pan. Add one type of rice to each pan, return to a boil, cover, and decrease the heat to low. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer both types of rice to one sheet pan and rake with a fork to separate the grains.

While the rice is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the celery, shallot and apples and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the thyme, sage and cranberries and saute for 2 minutes more. Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons of water.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable-apple mixture with the rice. Taste the mixture, as you may need to add a pinch of two or salt.

To assemble the dish, scoop the rice mixture into the squashes. Serve each squash topped with a sprinkling of the toasted pistachios. Serve all on a platter or on individual plates as a main dish.

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