Persian Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Rose Petals
This is the season for squash. Don?t be scared off by the ?exotic? ingredients here, like rose petals and saffron. Use them if you can-they’re fantastic. (You can buy rose petals at specialty grocery stores, or dry your own-make sure they are pesticide free.) But if you don’t have the items on hand, you?ll still have a tasty treat without them. You can substitute wild rice or wheat berries for the rice; you can use any kind of dried fruit, really, and almonds or pecans can also stand in for walnuts. I promise you, it’s delish!
Yield: 2-4 servings
6 sweet dumpling squash (or substitute acorn squash, or use bell peppers instead)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked basmati rice or barley 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup barberries or dried apricots
1/2 cup dried, pitted tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, minced
3 tablespoons dried rose petals, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Neatly slice 1/2-1″ off the top of each squash and set it aside.
Check the bottoms to see if they’re level. If not, slice off enough so that the squash will stand steadily. Scoop out the seeds, rub the inside and out with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place the squash in an oiled baking dish.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, followed by the onion and saut? until lightly browned. Add the garlic, rice, walnuts, barberries, cherries, apricots, and rose petals. Stir well and continue cooking for 5 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture is dry. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Fill each squash with stuffing and replace the tops. Whisk together the orange juice, saffron water, and the remaining oil and pour over the squash. Cover tightly with a dish lid and bake for 25 minutes, basting occasionally with the juice. Uncover, baste, and bake until the squash is golden and tender, about 5 minutes more. To serve, transfer the squash to a platter and pour the liquid from the baking dish on top. Garnish with rose petals.