Stuffed Squash

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Although it’s cold outside (and I mean REALLY cold outside), inside the house, our thoughts have already turned to spring. Specifically, we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to plant in the garden this year. Last year, we had a whole bunch of stuff: lettuce, kale, collards, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, string beans, peas, cucumbers, beets, all kinds of peppers, and even some bok choy (which I helped to plant and then refused to eat.  Same thing with the broccoli rabe).  This year, we’re flipping through the Baker Creek catalogue, looking at all the beautiful pictures as visions of dilly beans dance in our heads.

Frank is interested in planting melons and trying a new variety of string beans. We’re skipping over the sections featuring bok choy and broccoli rabe.  And I have my eye on the section of the catalogue featuring my personal favorite: squash.

Yes, squash.  Now, admittedly, squash is not the sexiest vegetable.  No one serves it at parties, no one orders it as a side dish, it’s not a popular color for paint. But it’s so delicious.  Last year we grew some beautiful butternut squash on top of the rain barrels:

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This year, I am hoping we can plant some hubbard squash as well.  Not only because it makes a mean cookie, but because there’s something about the blue-green color of it that I find strangely soothing….

Another great thing about squash?  It keeps for a reeeaaalllly long time.  We picked ours in the fall, and just recently enjoyed the last of them.  Here is a recipe, along with a picture of the end result:

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STUFFED SQUASH

1 butternut squash

1 large shallot

3 ribs of celery

1 large Fuji apple, chopped (or whatever apple you prefer or have on hand)

1/3 cup diced dates

2 cups of water, veggie broth or chicken stock

1 cup chick peas

1/3 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup diced cheese (we used cheddar, but use whatever you have)

1/4 nut (about 1/4 teaspoon) nutmeg

1 tablespoon herbs de provence

3 cups cooked black rice (if you have leftover rice, this is a great way to use it up!  If not, the black rice recipe follows below)

Preheat over to 350.  Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and enough of the center to make space for the stuffing, and rub with olive oil.  Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the stuffing.

Sautee shallot and celery  in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, until tender.  Add 2 cups of whatever liquid you’re using, along with the diced apple, nutmeg, and herbs de provence.  Cook on medium-low heat until liquid is reduced by half.  Then add rice, chick peas, cheese, and enough breadcrumbs to get the consistency you like, and mix well.  Spoon stuffing into squash, sprinkle with any leftover bread crumbs, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

BLACK RICE

1 large shallot

2 medium carrots, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2.5 cups of water, veggie broth, or chicken stock

1 cup black rice

pinch of salt

Sautee carrots, celery and shallot in a medium sauce pan until soft.  Add rice, liquid and salt, and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.