Even in Los Angeles, the leaves are changing color and beginning to crunch beneath our feet, there’s a distinct chill in the air (even though we’re still struggling to erase the recent 114 degree days from our memories), colleges students are stressing about this year’s Halloween costume, and facebook statuses about football have consumed our newsfeeds. There’s no use denying it, autumn has arrived.
This fact becomes ever so apparent with a quick trip to the organic produce section of your local grocery store/market, as summer melons and berries have been replaced by fall gourds, squashes, and other terrifying yet fascinating looking items. After a quick trip to my local Whole Foods and Bristol Farms today, I ended up with this lovely selection of oddball squashes (that’s the plural of squash, right? It seems too easy…are we sure it’s not squaish? squashae?)
The handsome gentleman on the right is the subject of today’s discussion. I happened to be at Native Foods Cafe for lunch today (inhaling my 3rd vegan Reuben ((!!!)) in the past week), and discovered a Chef Tanya recipe in the October newsletter for the “Stuffed Turban Squash”. Of course, as I am always looking for ways to procrastinate my work-related-work, I decided to take this squash-insprired adventure as a challenge. It turned out quite well, so I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 Turban Squash (I found mine at Bristol Farms- they didn’t seem to have any at Whole Foods, so you may have to go on a hunt. I originally bought a Kabocha squash (at Whole Foods, before I ventured to Bristol), which is the green fellow pictured above, and was intending to try the recipe with that. I’ll have to use it for something new and creative tomorrow. Tanya’s recipe says you can probably find a Turban Squash at your local farmer’s market)
- Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup (I used 3, because I have a sweet tooth)
- 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup bread crumbs (I used Ezekial bread, but Tanya wasn’t specific so any kind of crumbled up bread should be fine)
- 8 oz cooked chestnuts
- 1 cup dried apricots or cranberries
(This was the original list from the newsletter, but due to a lack of grocery options I replaced the chestnuts with chopped walnuts…and I went with the cranberries because I think they’re more autumny…but go with your instincts.)
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the squash lightly with olive oil and bake it for 30-35 minutes (I took it out at 30, but I suggest 35 because I think it needed to be slightly softer). Allow the squash to cool. Cut the top off, remove the seeds, then scoop out a decent amount of squash and set it aside. Chop it up into manageable pieces.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms with salt & pepper until lightly browned. I actually added a couple tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter here, because I though it would add some richness to the final mixture. Add celery, shallots (word to the wise, be careful to not let the onion juice squirt in your eye…just trust me, I’m still in pain), and garlic. Sauté again until lightly browned.
Mix in the bread crumbs, chestnuts (or walnuts), apricots (or cranberries), maple syrup, and the squash you scooped out earlier.
Stuff this beautiful mixture back into the squash, cover it again with the top, and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
If you don’t run into any major disasters, you should end up with something like this:
So, so, so delicious. And filling too! I ate about 2/3 of it for dinner and am still full three hours later. It’s relatively healthy too, compared to some of the rich, creamy (and occasionally processed-foods-based) recipes I often post. I’m thrilled to have discovered this in time to perfect it for my family Thanksgiving. My mother, brother and I are going to try to prepare as many vegan Thanksgiving dishes as we can this year to impress the rest of the extended family. We’ll see how that goes…