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by Emma Christensen
With so many beautiful and unusual squashes available now, I can't seem to come home without at least one knobby, colorful, speckled new squash in my bag. Happily, stuffed squash is a dish that will work for just about any winter squash I happen to pick up. You don't really need a recipe -- just a few basic steps and dinner practically makes itself.
Stuffed squash is the perfect autumn weekend meal. I love futzing over the filling and then lazing on the couch while everything roasts. The house gradually fills with savory aromas until I can hardly wait another second to dive in.
Eating stuffed squash is an entirely personal experience. My husband likes to work from the outside in, taking a little bit of squash and a little bit of filling in each bite. I'm a masher -- I scrape all the squash from the sides and mix it thoroughly into the filling before finally digging in. You can take either approach, or invent your own special style!
One squash the size of a grapefruit or a little larger is usually enough for two people. All my instructions below are written with this in mind, but it's easy enough to multiply everything to feed more people. In fact, stuffed squash is an easy and elegant dish to serve at a dinner party, particularly since it can be easily adapted to for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
I've tried making stuffed squash with just about every squash out there, and I truly love them all. Acorn squashes are an old and dependable favorite, but red kuri squashes, sweet dumpling squashes and even spaghetti squashes are worth a try. The initial roasting time for the unstuffed squash may vary depending on the variety, but it rarely takes more than an hour.
For the squashes in the recipe below, I used a mix of barley, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and mozzarella seasoned with thyme and a pinch of cinnamon for the filling. Fall flavors at their best! I often use whatever bits of leftovers are in the fridge, mixing that last scoop of quinoa, a bit of roasted chicken, some grilled vegetables ... whatever needs using. About two to three cups of combined ingredients will do the job just fine.
Stuffed Roast Squash Recipe
Makes 1 squash, serves 2
1 winter squash, like acorn, kabocha, red kuri, sweet dumpling, delicata, spaghetti or any other grapefruit-sized (or slightly larger) squash
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 cups of filling
General amounts for filling -- to equal 2 to 3 cups total:
1/2 to 1 cup protein -- sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, or baked tofu
1 to 2 cups vegetables -- onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
1/2 cup cooked grains and/or nuts -- barley, quinoa, millet, farro, rice, walnuts, almonds, pecans
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese
1 to 3 teaspoons herbs or spices
Prepare the squash for roasting: Preheat the oven to 375 F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Slice the squash in half from stem to root and scoop out the seeds.
Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the oven.
Roast the squash until very soft and tender when poked with a fork or paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size and variety of your squash.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Depending on the size of your squash, 2 to 3 cups of combined ingredients is usually sufficient. You can combine leftovers from other meals (cooked chicken, roasted vegetables, etc.) or you can prepare a fresh filling. Cook any raw meats and raw vegetables and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the spices, salt, and pepper to your liking.
Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves -- it's fine to really stuff the wells and also to mound the filling on top.
Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.
Stuffed Squash for a Crowd: This recipe is easily multiplied to feed whatever sized gathering you are hosting. The squashes and the filling can also be prepped in advance and warmed just before serving. One-half of a squash is typically a good main course meal for an adult.
Stuffed Squash Recipe, American Cuisine
Available at Amazon.com: Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen
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"Stuffed Roast Squash"
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