3/4 cup raw pecan pieces
1 cup white basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup water
2 small acorn squash*
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon olive oil or pecan oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Feta or goat cheese crumbles (optional)
- Cook the rice**: In an Instant Pot or digital pressure cooker, stir the rice, sage, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 cup of water. Pressure cook on high for 3 minutes. (Note: It takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” before it starts cooking. During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.) After the pot beeps, use the Natural Release method and wait 10 minutes to let the pot cool down naturally (set a timer so you don’t forget!). Then vent any remaining steam by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. (Never put your hands or face near the steam release valve when releasing steam.)
- Meanwhile, prep the veggies: While the rice cooks, cut the squash in half and remove seeds, then cut it in half again (into quarters). Set aside until ready for Step 5. Dice the onion and celery. Mince the garlic.
- Toast the pecans: In a dry skillet over low heat, toast the pecans for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
- Make the stuffing: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery 5 to 7 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme and oregano, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. When the rice is cooked, stir it into the skillet. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, the fresh ground black pepper, butter, and pecans.
- Cook the squash*: Rinse the Instant Pot and place the steamer basket in the bottom with 1 cup of water. Rub the squash quarters with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of dried oregano. Place the squash quarters in the pot, stacking as necessary. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes. (Note: It takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” before it starts cooking.) After the pot beeps, immediately do a Quick Release: vent any remaining steam by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad.
- Serve: Carefully remove the squash from the Instant Pot and sprinkle it with kosher salt. (Do not omit this step: it brings in the necessary flavor!) Spoon the stuffing over the squash quarters and serve immediately.
- *If you don’t have an Instant Pot or want to cook more than 2 acorn squash at once, you can roast the squash in the oven. Use the method in this Roasted Acorn Squash recipe.
- **If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can boil the rice on the stovetop according to the package instructions.