[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Stuffed Squash
20 December 2016
[Squash and Sprouts]

'Tis the season for winter squash, fa-la-la-la ... and so on.

If one is attempting to eat seasonally, and especially if one is in a CSA or getting a veg box, one starts to see squash appearing with some regularity about this time. The one that shows up in my basket the most often is the ubiquitous butternut squash. There are lots of things that one can do with the squash - soups, pastas, curries, and so forth. I've even used it in a gratin, upon occasion. We were looking for something new to try the other day, and I though that perhaps I'd have a go at stuffing a butternut squash.

The difficulty with making a successful stuffed squash is cooking the squash enough without overcooking the stuffing. The solution that I use is to treat the squash and the stuffing as separate components as much as possible. The vegetarian stuffing I use below requires very little cooking; the squash requires a great deal more. The trick is to cook the squash until it is nearly done, then prep it and stuff it, and then finish it off.

Butternuts are even more complicated since the seed bearing area will cook much faster than the thicker 'neck.' The most effective way to deal with this is to simply hack the neck off and cook it separately, but this doesn't make as pretty a presentation. If you're willing to risk the squash being a bit over- or under-cooked, you can leave it more-or-less intact.

As I mentioned, the stuffing recipe I give below is essentially vegetarian, although I do use an egg as a binder. If you want a stuffing with flesh, fowl, or fish, I'd suggest precooking the protein before mixing the stuffing, and then proceeding as below. My stuffing calls for 'soy mince,' which is 'textured vegetable protein' (aka TVP) with some spices already added. I picked some up to try it out, and it's not bad. I prefer plain TVP simply so that I can have fuller control over the spicing, but the experiment was worth trying.

[Lots of pictures]

Stuffed Squash

If you can, I recommend starting this meal the night or morning before you want to eat it. Mix the mince or TVP with the bulgur wheat and add the splashes of water and wine. Set it aside, ideally in the fridge, to rehydrate. Stick the squash in a moderate oven, 175C/350F for around 45 minutes. Then let it cool.

Mince the onion and the pepper. Add them to the bulgur wheat mixture. Add a splash of citrus juice, any herbs you would like to use, and mix well. Add the egg and mix it all up again. Since the stuffing needs to hold its shape, you may need to add some thickening agent to soak up some of the remaining liquid. Flour or gram (chickpea) flour will do the trick, but breadcrumbs work a treat. I will sometimes use a mix of gram flour and breadcrumbs. It is worth mentioning that you could, if desired, drain excess liquid from the stuffing before adding the egg, but you'll lose some flavour that way.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and goo from the pod area. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity, mounding it to such a height as pleases you. Then back they go into a moderate oven for another thirty minutes or so.

I was aiming for something in a Mediterranean feel in the stuffing, as well as using the veg I had in the fridge. This informed my choice of lime juice and bulgur wheat as ingredients, as well as the herbs I tossed in. One can make a stuffing out of nearly anything, of course, with any flavour profile you like, but the basic technique remains the same.

© 2016 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite