Monday, October 15, 2012

Meatless Monday: How to Stuff a Squash


While I am not a fan of shorter days and falling temperatures, I do love the bountiful produce of autumn, especially the hearty vegetables. Winter squash, now readily available at farmer’s markets and in produce aisles, is low in calories, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins. [If you are interested, you can check out the nutrition facts for acorn squash here.] With the best price you will see this season, stock up now! 

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, so I thought I’d take a break from food history, nutritional facts, and polemics to share with you how I prepare baked, stuffed winter squash. This comfort food can be fashioned from a variety of ingredients in your cupboard and refrigerator. As long as you have winter squash on hand, you are pretty much good to go.

In her Moosewood Cookbook, Mollie Katzen offers up three different fillings for stuffing a winter squash. Filling Three - “Comprehensively Stuffed” served as the inspiration for my version which follows. 

Your squash should be par-baked before you stuff it. Set your oven to 350°F and then halve and seed the desired number of squash. Brush the inner portion of the squash with olive oil. Bake the halves upside down on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes. While they are baking, prepare your stuffing. The recipe below will easily fill two large squash. [Note: These make perfect leftovers, easily warmed in the oven or microwave, so don't be afraid to make extra.] 

STUFFING INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 slices whole grain bread (with crusts), cubed
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated


PREPARATION
  • Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet until the butter melts.
  • Add vegetables and saute√© until tender.
  • Add spices, bread, and all the other ingredients EXCEPT the cheese.
  • Cook until everything is well blended and looks like stuffing.
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Stir in cheese.
  • Cover and let rest until the squash is ready.
  • Stuff the baked squash with the dressing. [Careful! This is really hot!]
  • Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes.
  • Very carefully remove the foil.
  • Serve with a colorful, contrasting side dish such as bright green peas, red beets, or cranberry sauce.

Voil√°! Thanksgiving on a small plate, minus the turkey. It’s what’s for dinner…



Happy Monday. Thanks for reading. 

I often blog on food, food issues, or topics related to growing things on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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