With so many beautiful and unusual squashes available, I cant seem to come home from a farmers market without at least one knobby, colorful new squash in my bag.
Happily, stuffed squash will work for just about any winter squash I happen to pick up. You dont really need a recipe, just a few basic steps, and dinner practically makes itself.
Stuffed squash is the perfect autumn weekend meal. I love dawdling over the filling and then lazing on the couch while everything roasts. The house fills with savory aromas until I can hardly wait to dive in.
Eating stuffed squash is an entirely personal experience. My husband likes to work from the outside in, taking a little bit of squash and a little bit of filling in each bite. Im a masher I scrape all the squash from the sides and mix it into the filling before finally digging in.
One squash the size of a grapefruit or a little larger is usually enough for two people. My instructions are written with this in mind, but its easy to multiply everything to feed more people. Stuffed squash is an easy and elegant dish to serve at a dinner party, particularly since it can be adapted for both vegetarians and carnivores.
Ive tried making stuffed squash with just about every squash out there, and I truly love them all. Acorn squashes are an old and dependable favorite, but red kuri squashes, sweet dumpling squashes and even spaghetti squashes are worth a try. The initial roasting time for the unstuffed squash will vary depending on the variety, but it rarely takes more than an hour.
For the filling in this recipe, I used a mix of barley, sausage, mushrooms, onions and mozzarella seasoned with thyme and a pinch of cinnamon. But I often use whatever bits of leftovers are in the refrigerator, mixing that last scoop of quinoa, a bit of roasted chicken, some grilled vegetables whatever needs using. About 2 to 3 cups of combined ingredients will do the job just fine.
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the lower-middle position. Slice the squash in half from stem to root and scoop out the seeds.
PLACE the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place in the oven.
ROAST the squash until very soft and tender when poked with a fork or paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size and variety of squash.
PREPARE the filling while the squash is roasting: Cook any raw meats and raw vegetables and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the spices, salt and pepper to your liking.
FLIP the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves – it’s fine to really stuff the wells and mound the filling on top.
COVER the pan with the foil and bake the halves for 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.
Stuffed squash for a crowd: This recipe is easily multiplied to feed whatever size gathering you are hosting. The squashes and filling also can be prepped in advance and warmed just before serving. Half of one squash is typically a good main-course meal for an adult.Yield: 2 servings.
Emma Christensen is recipe editor for TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.