Stuffed butternut squash

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other night we needed something nourishing and nurturing to eat. It has been pretty gloomy around the house after the kitty-drama, and with the holidays right around the corner, all of us needed something warm and tasty for the tummy that would leave us feeling loved and just a smidge more positive. There was a nice organic butternut squash sitting on the counter, so my brain made the connection – stuffed butternut squash!

Stuffing anything is awesome, and it helps clean out the fridge. I pulled out a some celery, mushrooms, half an onion that was almost forgotten, along with some spinach that was really ready to eat. There’s no denying I had the mixings for a wonderfully savory stuffing.

Ingredients

1 big ol’butternut squash

1 medium onion chopped

1 stalk celery chopped fine

2 cloves garlic minced

1/4 cup chopped mushroom

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt, pepper, thyme, oregano

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon water

1 cup chopped spinach

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

1/4 cup shredded swiss cheese

1 Tablespoon soft butter

1/4 cup smashed crackers

How to make the nurturing goodness…

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and get out a nice 9 by 12-inch casserole, or something big enough to put your squash in. Slice the squash in half (careful here – these things are tricky, so take your time) and scoop out the seeds. You can also scoop out some of the squash along the narrow length for more stuffing space. Go ahead and put the cut halves in the casserole to await the stuffing.

Place a large saute pan over medium-low heat and toss in the olive oil. Once it’s all warm and happy, add your chopped onion and celery along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let everything cook for about 20 minutes stirring along the way.

Yeah, I know 20 minutes is a long time to saute onions, but it’s worth it – really. They’re now all brown and caramelized and ready for more! Add the mushrooms, garlic and sprig of thyme, oregano or rosemary – whatever seasoning you like. Give everything a good stir.

After a couple of minutes, de-glaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and water. Step back when you do this or you’ll be blinking and snorting for a little bit (vinegar is a bit strong…).

Let everything hang out while you get the topping started. Toss some crackers (any kind you have) into a baggy and squish squish away. You can measure to make sure you’ve got 1/4 cup or be like me and just eyeball it. A little more or less isn’t going to ruin the finished product. Now add the shredded cheeses and butter to the baggy and squish it all up some more.

Okay, now it’s time to finish up and put everything in the oven. Add the spinach to your veggie mix, stir it around until it softens and check your mix for seasoning and adjust as desired. Then scoop the goodness onto the butternut squash. Cover the squash with some tinfoil and place in your oven for about 30 minutes.

Check your squash after 30 minutes for doneness. Carefully remove the squash and peel back the tinfoil. If it is soft when a fork is pressed into it, you’re good to go.

Evenly distribute your topping over the butternut squash and place in the oven for another 15 minutes uncovered or until the top is all bubbly and gooey. Remove and let everything cool for a minute before eating – you don’t want that burnt top of the mouth thing.

Hopefully you’ll feel hugged from the inside out just like I did when eating the finished tastiness. And, what’s great is you really CAN’T mess this recipe up (other than not cooking the squash all the way through), and you can add things you love! Some chopped walnuts, bit of blue cheese, dried cranberries, or leeks instead of onions would all be great additions or changes!

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