OK, OK, it’s time to get my bloggin’ shoes on and make a REAL post that’s not modified pasta with butter or some variation on rice.
Think Lauren, think! What would be super culinary of yo’ lazy ass?
Well… Thanksgiving is right around the corner… perhaps it’s time for some pre-tofurkey day practice! I’m armed with a pound of fresh cranberries (word to the wise — they don’t taste like craisins when they’re raw 😦 ) and a shelf full of various squashes — time to get cookin’, Pilgrim style!
This year we’re planning on hosting our very own vegetarian Thanksgiving. Instead of turkey, or even tofurkey, we’re having a homemade seitan loaf prepared by a close vegan friend. Us veggies have always been left out of fun holiday-time events like carving the roast beast, so this was very exciting news…something substantial to sink our steak teeth into!
But sadly that meant one big letdown — no giant stuffed squash as our big time centerpiece…
Which left one burning question: WTF am I going to do with all these squashes!?!?
I have exactly six of them… they take up a whole shelf in our kitchen. Do squashes even go bad?! Am I going to be inundated with these things forever, without even an expiration date or a hint of mold to help me usher their way out of the house?!
No sir, not if I can help it.
That’s right… it’s squash stuffin’ time!
The beauty of stuffed squash is that it presents an entirely open palette. Even if you follow the traditional equation of squash + carbs + veggies + spices, there are still a multitude of questions to address; rice or bread? something more exotic and weird like pasta? ooo how about potatoes? or even squash stuffed squash (hey, I have a LOT of squash, ok?!)!
The door is pretty wide open to possibilities, and you don’t have to stick with the traditional Americanized version… how about Mexican stuffed squash (with rice, beans and tomatoes), Asian stuffed squash (a stir fry on a bed of squash), or just plain ol’ leftovers stuffed squash (am I crazy or would soup in a squash bowl be AWESOME?!). Ohhh how my hungry mind wanders!
Since I’ve never made stuffed squash before, I decided to stick with a nice, solid, traditional base. Like many ubiquitous and foods with a million variations, I couldn’t find a recipe that I loved AND had all the ingredients to, so I came up with my own using stale bread and veggies from the freezer:
Easy, Traditional Stuffed Squash
- 1 squash of your choosing, cut in half and de-seeded (I’d go for acorn or butternut)
- Enough olive oil to give your squash a nice, light basting + 2 tbs more for the stuffing
- 1/2 white onion, chopped but not diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
- 1/4 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 to 1.5 cups bread, cut into cubes or small pieces (If you have crusty or stale bread, go with that. Slices from a loaf of bread work, but you generally want something that holds up a little better. Whole wheat bread produces a nuttier flavor; since there’s already nuts in this recipe, I’d go with white, if you have it)
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or less)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
- Liberal pinches of the following spices:
- Chile powder
- Salt and peppa’, to taste
- Lots of freshly grated parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 400. Lightly baste the insides of the squash halves with olive oil and throw ’em open side up on a baking pan. When the oven is preheated, stick the squash in and bake for 30 minutes.
- While the squash is baking, prepare the stuffing. Start by sauteing the garlic and onion in a large skillet over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, carrots, peas and two tablespoons of the vegetable broth. Saute for two minutes until combined.
- Add the bread to the pan and mix well. Little by little, pour in the vegetable broth until each piece of bread is coated and wet, but not soaking (this may require more or less vegetable broth than listed). Throw in the spices and heat until all the excess liquid is absorbed from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and throw in the nuts and a handful of parmesan cheese.
- Take the squash out of the oven and fill with the stuffing mixture. Consider covering the squash with tinfoil if you prefer a less crispy and more evenly cooked stuffing (I like the crispier stuff, so I didn’t). Stick the squash back in the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender. About 5 minutes before the cooking ends, top the squash with more freshly grated parmesan and allow to melt in the oven.
- Take the squash out of the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and eat!