I love it when the weather starts to turn, and the evening fare starts to shift to heartier more savory meals. One of our favorites are stuffed winter squashes. In our neck of the woods, acorn and butternut squash are plentiful and inexpensive. Talking to friends, I was kind of surprised to learn that these squashes are a little daunting to a lot of folks, so I thought I’d share my approach to what is realistically a 40-minute meal, start-to-finish. You can alter the ingredients based on what you have on-hand, and/or make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for a quick, easy meal later.
I didn’t think to photograph this meal step-by step, but it’s straightforward to describe, and pretty easy to reverse-engineer just by looking at the finished product. My version is vegetarian and gluten-free (omit cheese and butter for vegan version). But you can alter all the inputs – I used millet as stuffing base, but it could have just as easily been rice, or wheat berries, or other grain of your choosing. Tonight I put pears in my stuffing, but you could omit, or use apples, or dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, etc). Likewise, I had kale in the house, but any green would be equally good. Read my recipe and feel free to modify or substitute liberally. If you want meat, add some cooked crumbled sausage to the stuffing mix prior to baking.
Acorn and Butternut Squash, Stuffed with Sage-infused Millet, kale and pear
1 Acorn squash, halved, seeds scooped out
1 Butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out (cut off area above hollowed out bowl and use in other dishes)
1 cup millet (uncooked)
1 Medium onion, chopped
2 cups chopped kale
2 pears, chopped
1 tbsp dried sage, or several fresh sages leaves, minced
1-2 tbsp butter (omit for vegan)
1-2 tbsp oil (olive oil, canola, etc)
1/2 cup grated semi-hard or hard cheese (omit for vegan)
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange the squash cut side down on a large plate with enough of a lip to add a bit of water (submerge squashes a couple millimeters). Cover plate and squashes tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave them for 5 minutes to steam them. Alternatively, you could steam the squashes in the traditional way, which would take about 15-20 minutes.
Cook the millet, covered, in 3 cups water with sage and salt to taste. At a low simmer, millet takes about 25 minutes. All the water should be absorbed, but if not, drain excess.
Saute the onion in a bit of oil and/or butter. When nearly translucent, add the kale and pear, stir till wilted, about 2 minutes.
Mix the cooked millet with kale mixture. Add a TBSP butter and stir till melted. Salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the grain mixture into the squashes, and top with cheese. bake in a 375F convection oven or under broiler until cheese is lightly browned. Serve hot, or save for later. these will keep for a week in the fridge, or months in the freezer.
Squashes were $1 each at farmers’ market. Millet about $0.25. Onion and kale $0.25. Pear $0.50. Cheese $0.75. Butter $0.25. Sage $0.10. EVOO $0.15. Total $4.25. Made (4) servings = $1.07 per serving.