Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vegan MoFo #14: Butternut Squash with Pears and Walnuts

Behold: my first response to the Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge! Last week's ingredients were pears and nuts, and since I had pears in the fruit bowl, walnuts in the cupboard and a humongous butternut squash just sitting there on my kitchen counter, thinking (I could tell), "So eat me, already!", I decided to make a stuffing featuring these perennial autumn favorites. I was originally thinking along traditional "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" lines, but my partner suggested taking a more Caribbean approach to the seasonings, which was definitely The Right Thing To Do. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the damn squash in half in the first place (thanks again, Robert); this should be done lengthwise and with great care, because a whole squash can be a slippery devil when it's trying to escape, so watch out. Once it's been successfully cloven in twain, remove the seeds, smear it inside and out with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Baking at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes should ensure the flesh will scoop out easily, but leave the shells enough architectural integrity to stand up to re-stuffing. Since I literally invented it this afternoon, I had no idea how it would turn out, but it was so good that we've already decided to have it again for Thanksgiving, if not before. I call that a success!

Butternut Squash with Pears and Walnuts

~ 1 large butternut squash, cut in half and roasted at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
~ ½ cup lite coconut milk
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tbsp. grated ginger
~ 1 cup onions, chopped
~ ½ cup celery, diced
~ 1 large Bosc pear, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cinnamon, thyme
~ 1 tbsp. curry powder
~ ½ tsp. nutmeg, allspice
~ Pinch cayenne pepper
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 2 tbsp. maple syrup
~ 1 cup cooked bulghur wheat (you know how to cook bulghur, don’t you? Just put your lips together and…oh, wait, that’s whistling. Follow package directions.)
~ 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes
~ Extra walnuts for garnish
~ Paprika for dusting

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Scoop out the flesh from the squash halves and mash with the coconut milk, leaving about ½ inch of flesh around the inside of the shells.
~ In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil, adding the garlic, onions, celery and ginger.
~ Saute about 5-10 minutes over medium heat, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking.
~ Add the spices, maple syrup, chopped pear and cook another 5 minutes until the pear starts to soften.
~ Add the mashed squash, cooked bulghur and toasted walnuts; stir to combine and cook over low heat 5 minutes more.
~ Place the scooped out squash halves on an oiled baking sheet and fill each one with half of the stuffing.
~ Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the tops with the extra 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and dust with paprika.
~ Raise the heat to 450 and bake another 5-10 minutes until the topping is brown and beauteous.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 20 minutes before serving.


  1. I just roasted some squash last night, oh it smells so good. My first squash of the season. This sounds awesome so I'll definitely try it with subsequent squishes.

  2. YUMMERS! This looks and sounds gorgeous!!
    I have a Butternut equally as big that I'm just waiting to ripen completely.
    Can't wait!

  3. that looks soooo good. I was thinking about stuffed squash for the Iron Chef challange too but of course never got around to it. The spices sound great.

  4. I realize this is an old recipe, but I found it and made it last weekend. It was delicious.. i reduced the allspice and thyme a bit, based on our tastes, but it was hands down a winner. I will make it for Thanksgiving , and perhaps add a few fresh cranberries for color.Thank you for all your recipe creations!!

    1. That's great; I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and I hope it went over well at Thanksgiving!