Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuffed Squash

I'm currently in Independence, MO doing research at the Truman Presidential Library, so this is a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago. When I first got to Independence, I was rather distressed about my eating situation--both my hotel and the library are in sort of strip mall-y areas, and the only restaurants around seemed to be fast food or chains like Bob Evans and Chiles. Now, I love me some Bob Evans sometimes, but I don't exactly want to eat it for three meals a day!

However, things are looking up: my hotel has little yoplait yogurts in their continental breakfast, I stopped by the grocery store to get some non-perishable stuff to make myself lunches (I'd forgotten how good peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches are out of a brown bag!), and I discovered downtown Independence, which is actually pretty cute, all two blocks of it. I stopped in at Cafe Verona tonight, and really enjoyed their delicious Ceasar salad and reasonably tasty lasagna. Still, I miss making my own food! Even in the zillion degree heat, I'm dreaming of these stuffed squash I made a few weeks ago with my mom. (And BOY, is it hot here! The reference librarian was commenting yesterday that oh, the humidity is only 85 percent! And that's so good for here!) See, despite the heat, I'm spending all day in a highly air conditioned archive, so hot food still sounds pretty good!

Of course, these squash are probably best in the fall, but when you happen to find an old butternut squash in your basement in July, they're still pretty amazing. The recipe suggests that these would be a great Thanksgiving main dish for vegetarians, and I would definitely agree with that. Even if, like myself, you're not a veggie, I think you'll still love them. The stuffing is like a jazzed up version of Thanksgiving dressing, and it pairs perfectly with the creamy orange squash. One half squash is enough for a light dinner, or two halves for a big eater.

Also, feel free to change things up! The original recipe is below, but we subbed almonds for walnuts and pine nuts for sunflower seeds, just cause that's what was around...both were a stunning success!

Stuffed Squash (from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook)

2 butternut squash, split

3-4 T butter

½ cup chopped onion

1 large clove garlic, crushed and diced

1 stalk chopped celery

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup sunflower seeds

½ tsp sage

½ tsp thyme

1 cup coarsely-crumbled whole wheat bread

Juice from ½ lemon

¼ cup raisins

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Remove the seeds from the squash halves and bake, face down on an oiled tray for 30 minutes at 350 degrees until tender enough to eat.

2. While baking, make the filling. Saute the onions, garlic, celery, nuts, and seeds in butter. Cook over low heat until onions are clear, nuts are browned, and celery is tender.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cheese. Cook over low heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and mix in the cheese. Pack into squash cavities and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

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