Stuffed Squash

Finished Stuffed SquashThis recipe involves a few different aspects of cooking to prepare ingredients and then it all comes together in a beautiful feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. Read the whole recipe before you start to cook so that you see how to divide various ingredients and the order of preparation.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or sage
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or vegan alternative
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt

Special equipment:

  • Kitchen twine

Preparation

Toast the pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–15 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop and set aside.

 Cook the lentils

  • Wash the lentils well until the water is clear when rinsing them and drain excess water. While you prepare the veggies to roast, cook the lentils in 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat low, stirring occasionally. Approx. cooking time is 10 – 15 minutes so the lentils stay a bit dry but they’re soft (about the texture of hummus).

 Prepare the veggies to roast

  • Trim stem and cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to scoop out some of the flesh to leave a small divot down the center. Set aside the zucchini for the filling in a mixing bowl.
  • Trim stem and cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, leaving a thick border of flesh on all sides and creating a divot deep enough to fit zucchini halves inside. Set aside the eggplant filling in the mixing bowl with the zucchini flesh.
  • Trim stem and cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Compost the seeds or set them aside to roast them. Scoop out insides, leaving a 1/2″ border on all sides and creating a divot deep enough to fit eggplant halves inside. Reserve squash filling in the mixing bowl with the zucchini and eggplant.
  • Using a fork, pierce insides of squash and zucchini halves. Using a sharp knife, make shallow crosshatch marks inside of eggplant, being careful not to pierce the skin. Trim green onions to match the length of the squash.

 Prepare the filling

  • Coarsely chop 2 garlic cloves. Combine chopped garlic, onion, mushrooms, with the zucchini, eggplant, and squash filling in the mixing bowl. Mix together and then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.
  • Heat oil over medium in a large skillet. Add vegetable purée and thyme, or sage. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Return to bowl and let cool. .
  • Stir in cooked lentils, 3 tbsp. parsley, and 1 tsp. salt.

 Prepare the maple butterMaple butter for stuffed squash

  • In a small pot, melt the butter and combine with finely minced clove of garlic, red pepper flakes, and remaining ½ tsp dried thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted, then stir in maple syrup.

 Assemble the roast

  • Place squash halves, cut side up, on prepared baking sheet. Brush inside of each half with maple butter and season with ½ tsp. salt. Using the back of a spoon, press some of the vegetable filling into each half until interior is fully coated. Sprinkle with ¼ cup toasted pecans.Assembling the stuffed squash
  • Nestle eggplant halves, cut side up, inside squash halves. Brush inside of each eggplant half with maple syrup butter and season with ½ tsp. salt. Using the back of a spoon, press some of the vegetable filling into each half until interior is fully coated. Sprinkle with ¼ cup pecans.
  • Nestle zucchini halves, cut side up, inside eggplant halves. Brush inside of each zucchini half with maple syrup butter and season with 1/8 tsp. salt. Using a spoon, fill zucchini halves with ¼ cup vegetable mixture, spreading it flat. Sprinkle with ¼ cup pecans (reserve remaining pecans), then lay green onion and chopped tomatoes down the middle.
  • Cut 3 (18″) lengths of kitchen twine. Slip twine under one squash half, then top with second squash half, so that cut sides face each other, and press down to seal. Tightly tie twine around squash to secure. Brush top with maple syrup butter (reserve remaining butter) and season with ½ tsp. salt. Wrap squash in aluminum foil Stuffed squash ready for bakingand place in the center of the baking sheet. Using 2 loaf pans or small metal bowls turned upside down, keep squash secure on baking sheet.
  • Bake at 400°F until squash is tender to the touch, 1 ½ – 2 hours. Remove foil and let rest 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, heat the remaining maple butter, and then stir in mint, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, and remaining 3 tbsp. parsley.
  • Place stuffed squash on a cutting board and cut into 1″ slices with a serrated knife, transferring to serving plates as you go. Spoon herb butter over slices, garnish with remaining pecans, and serve.

Note:

Although the recipe is quite long, this is quite simple to make, and it’s fun! When you shop for the veggies choose the squash, eggplant, and zucchini that will fit/nestle into one another. When possible, choose squash and eggplant that have a neck and bulb that are as uniform in width as possible. Otherwise you can trim it a bit so that they fit into each other.