This is one of our favorite cold weather (in LA that's 60 degrees) dishes and also a fun meal to serve dinner guests, because the bowl is edible! If you're going full paleo, then skip the crispy rice, but note that the crackly texture against the soft squash is a match made in heaven. Our crispy rice recipe is adapted from that of Jessica Koslow, founder of Sqirl restaurant in Los Angeles. The rice can be fried 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. It's also a tasty snack by itself.
For the Squash:
2 acorn squash
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
For the Crispy Rice:
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
2-3 cups vegetable or safflower oil for frying
For the Kale:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound (about 2 bunches) lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Roast the Squash:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Wash the squash well and cut them in half, crosswise, against the ridges. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Shave a bit off the skin side to create a flat bottom so that your bowl will sit evenly on the tray and not wobble. Rub each half all over with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the squash bowls on sheet tray, cut side up, and sprinkle oregano, garlic, paprika and ground cloves in the cavity of each. Season the squash well with salt and pepper, and roast for 45 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. While the squash roasts, make the crispy rice and kale.
Fry the Rice:
Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a heavy bottomed pan and fill with oil to measure 2 inches. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the rice ½ cup at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the rice from the oil with a fine mesh sieve and spread it out on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt while hot.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale and toss to coat with the spicy oil. Carefully pour in the stock. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the kale is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5-7 more minutes. Add lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.
Assemble the Bowls:
Place the squash halves on a serving platter or each on individual plates. Evenly divide the kale between the four squash halves and then top with crispy rice. If you want more heat, give it a hit of your favorite hot sauce. Serve warm!