Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Squash

The little Miss turned 2 months old recently!
Yep, she's cute.  She's been keeping me busy and it's been so much fun to watch her start to become aware of the world around her.  Not at all surprisingly, she's a chatty little girl already and loves to coo and squawk at us.  She has been such a trouper about the car rides and days away from home to see loved ones for the holidays.  
The season of holiday get-togethers is upon us and eaters with special diets of any kind, be they meatless, gluten-free, or low sodium, are often an afterthought at the dinner table, relegated to plates full of sides.  I wanted to make an easy meatless dish that would be seasonal, celebratory, beautiful, and delicious for your holiday table.  Using ingredients I had on hand, I put together this entree that will make any diner feel special, and also happens to be entirely free of animal products.
I think it's terribly sad that bread stuffing is only eaten on Thanksgiving (turkey, I'm less upset about) because it's such a versatile dish that uses up lots of leftover bits to make something that's greater than the sum of its parts.  Stuffing's underuse was my starting point for this meal along with the desire to start using the squash that I have stored in the basement.
I made this meal in two days because it was easier to break it up, roasting the squash on the first night while we ate dinner and doing the rest on the second night.  You are welcome to use whatever bread you have on hand to make the croutons and any spices you have and love.  I think sage is required for good stuffing, along with nuts, celery, and stock.  The mushrooms make it extra hearty.  Be sure to moisten the stuffing without getting it too wet.  If you add just the right amount of stock, it will season everything and the croutons will be tender on the inside and just crispy and chewy on the edges.

Stuffed Squash
Serves two, 1/2 squash per person

1 sweet dumpling or acorn squash
4 slices potato bread, cubed
1 tbsp. dried majoram
1 tbsp. dried chives
1 tbsp. seasoned salt (or make your own)
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
8-10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. dried sage
1/2 c. pecans
1/4-1/2 c. vegetable stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

Begin by steaming your squash in the oven.  Slice in half, scrape out the seeds, and place cut side down on a baking sheet with 1 in. of water.  Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until a knife slides in easily.

In a dry pan, toast your pecans over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until you smell them.  Cool and chop.
 While your squash is baking (or the next day while you're assembling the rest of the stuffing) make the croutons.  Slice your bread into 1 inch cubes and coat with olive oil and the marjoram, chives, and seasoned salt.
 Cook at 375 for 10-15 minutes, or until your bread is dried out and a little crunchy, but not hard.  You can easily use old bread for this.

While your croutons are baking, add the onion to a pan coated with olive oil over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.
 Let the onions soften for a minute or two and then add the celery.
 Once the onions are translucent and the celery is bright green and starting to soften (another 3-5 minutes) add the mushrooms and continue to cook.
 Keep cooking until everything had broken down and is soft.
 Mix in your croutons and pecans, crumble in the sage, and add enough stock for the mix to be moist but not wet.  Give it a taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
 Stuff the mix into the cavity of the squash.  Put any extra stuffing in a baking dish.
 Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the croutons are crispy and brown.   We ate ours with the Anchor Steam holiday beer.
 The pecans should still have good crunch, the mushrooms should be savory and rich, and the croutons should have just a little chew.  The herbs round out all the vegetable flavors and the creamy squash hold everything together.
Give this a try at your next celebration, or just your normal Monday night.  I think you'll like it!


Sarah said...

I'm drooling! The recipe looks delicious, I'm definitely going to try it sometime soon.

Ellie looks wonderful! I LOVE her "2 months" top!

Mike Lieberman said...

Nice. I love the winter squashes this time of year. Been sauteeing up kale and using that to stuff acorn squash.

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