Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thanksgiving: Instead of Turkey

Holiday flavours - sage, celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, wild rice, etc. - are not exclusive to meat. Think of everything that goes into turkey stuffing, and pack it into an acorn squash instead. If you are keen to avoid the bread and butter, replace it with some of the mashed squash, lentils, and coconut oil. The bonus crispy and salty topping is made with sunflower seeds. Stuffed squash is an awesome vegetarian/vegan option for the Thanksgiving table. At the very least, it's a stellar side dish. Plant-based eating need not be boring. Dishes like these are decadent, colourful, exciting, and nourishing. 

1. Pre-bake squash: Cut an acorn squash (or pumpkin, or kabocha or butternut squash, etc.) in half and scoop out the seeds. Bake in the oven at 425F until it is tender, but not too soft. About 40 minutes. Doing this the night before helps. When cool enough, scoop out the squash, leaving some meat around the edges and bottom. (See picture). You want the squash to be sturdy enough for stuffing.

2. Pre-cook rice and lentils: If you have leftover grains or legumes in your fridge, this is the perfect leftover opportunity. Otherwise, cook a small batch of your favourite grain + bean. Barley, wheat berries, brown rice, farro, and chickpeas, lentils, or navy beans are all good options. Combining the two will form a complete protein for vegetarians. 

3. Make the filling: In a saute pan, cook minced onion, carrot, and celery until soft and translucent. I used coconut oil, but olive oil works too. Stir in a spoon of tomato paste, and a little water. Add plenty of chopped fresh sage. Cook for a minute. Next, you can add the following ingredients and don't worry about cooking fully. They will have their time in the oven. Add in the reserved squash meat, and mash with a fork. Add in two handfuls of rice and lentils. Add in some chopped spinach or kale. Add in some chopped parsley.

4. Make the topping: In a mortar and pestal, or food processor, crumble raw sunflower seeds. Mix in a spoon of coconut oil, a heaping spoon of nutritional yeast, chopped parsley, and salt. It will look like buttery breadcrumbs. Set aside. 

4. Pack and bake: Pack the stuffing into the hollowed-out squash. Spoon over the sunflower seed topping. Bake for 40 minutes at 375F. *Seeds are quick to burn, so bake in the lower half of your oven, away from the broiler. Move them to the top for the last 5-10 min of cooking for a golden crust. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post, I really like the dish and want to try this one out. Thanks for sharing the recipe, will be making it soon and hope that it will be delicious