I have one more post to share with all of you regarding the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, as well as a very cool review on Grange Restaurant in Sacramento, but I’ve been kinda antsy to share a recipe for my new favorite dinner this week (and my new dessert shots, and some more soup, and…). As I mentioned last month, I’m über-excited that there all sorts of squashes cropping up all over the place and I’m definitely making use of the few I have been able to afford. I had been craving some stuffed acorn squash from the Co-op, but since I’m still on these evil crutches (okay, only semi-evil because my triceps are getting really toned), I haven’t been able to go shopping anywhere except the mini-mart around the corner. As much as I love them though, they don’t sell squash, so this has presented quite the conundrum. Then I thought to myself, “Self: does it really need to be a stuffed acorn squash when you have a lovely butternut squash that’s just sitting there, alone and forlorn?” Of course not!
When it comes to stuffed squashes, acorn squash is the most popular choice because of its round shape. Using butternut squash requires a bit more effort but it’s worth it, especially when you consider all that extra squash that you get to play around with. I had thought about roasting the flesh from the neck of the squash so I could have my favorite fall snack, but decided to use the flesh in the stuffing I would make for the final dish instead. The possibilities for stuffing any squash are endless and after mulling it over for awhile, I decided to work with a savory couscous version that could incorporate the extra butternut squash flesh. Things just came together after that, and soon I had a wonderful bowl of lightly curried couscous, cauliflower, butternut squash and cranberries to stuff in my little “bowls”.
Now, I must point out that you will have more stuffing than your squash can hold (unless you’re using Charlie Brown’s Great Butternut Squash). Couscous definitely yields a lot more than it appears to, especially once you’ve fluffed it with a fork. Once you add the other ingredients, you’re left with a very hearty bowl of goodness that you can use as a nice side dish with chicken or pork. You could also serve it with some fresh baby spinach for a light, meatless lunch. Though it’s a bit more labor intensive than most of my recipes, it’s well worth the effort and it’s fun to watch it all come together. The beauty of all of this is that the entire recipe comes out to about $7.50, which not only gives you 2 lovely entrée servings or stuffed squash, but about 2-3 servings of curried cauliflower couscous, too. That’s quite a lot of food for such a tiny price!
Butternut Squash Stuffed with Cauliflower & Cranberry Couscous (makes 2 servings of squash & 2-3 separate servings of couscous; total cost per serving: ~$1.88)
1 large butternut squash, halved & seeded, with the neck flesh reserved
1/2 c dry couscous
1 c water
1/2 T butter
3/4 c cauliflower florets
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 T olive oil
1/3 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 c chopped green onions
1/4 t salt
1/3 t curry powder
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground ginger (optional)
1/4 t smoked paprika (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the two round, seeded squash halves face down in an ungreased baking dish and add 1 tablespoon of water. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the squash has become tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool. While the squash is baking, peel and cut the neck of the squash into 1” cubes and set aside. Bring the water and butter to a rolling boil; remove from heat, add the 1/2 cup of couscous and cover for about 5-6 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and yellow onion and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Next, add the butternut squash cubes, salt and all the spices, and sauté for about 6-7 minutes until the squash becomes tender. Toss in the cauliflower and sauté for about 2 more minutes.
In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the cooked couscous with the sautéed squash & cauliflower, green onions and dried cranberries, and fold together gently (NOTE: if your squash was really big and you ended up with more than 2 cups of squash cubes, set the rest aside for another dish). Set aside about 1 cup of the final couscous & veggie mixture in a bowl and moisten with the chicken or vegetable broth. Stuff each baked butternut squash half with a generous amount of the couscous (feel free to pack it in there!), place them in the baking dish and return to the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes. Save the rest of the couscous for lunch or to enjoy for a later dinner. Serve the stuffed squash with a nice salad or as a large side with a light meat dish, but most importantly, enjoy!