Friday, January 6, 2012

Baked stuffed kabocha squash (Still Baking #6)

So, last night: long story short, my uterus went CRAZY. I thought perhaps I was in early labor. But after about seven hours of madness, everything suddenly ceased and it's been all quiet on the western (southern?) front since then. Let me tell you, I grow extraordinarily weary of this.

ANYWAY, before that excitement happened, I finally got around to making something I've had in my queue for some time: this lovely kabocha squash that I bought in... hm... October, according to Flickr. Yes, it's THIS kabocha squash:

Pumpkin with a pumpkin

Really? Maybe I'm confused... I feel like I had Josh buy another one recently and we're back to 0 kabochas on hand now, so maybe it's a different one. I dunno.

I knew I wanted to bake/roast the squash but went back and forth on what to serve with it. Cut it into wedges and serve it as kabocha fries with tofu nuggets and some kale? Roast it and then puree it into soup? Etc. But when I looked around my kitchen and saw that I had two stale ends of bread loaves (the bread from Jan 1st), three partially used bunches of herbs, and some leeks and celery that didn't have a whole lot of life left in them, the answer became obvious: STUFFING!

Stuffed kabocha

Baked kabocha with bread stuffing
Serves 4-6

1 medium kabocha squash
canola oil for lightly brushing

1/4c earth balance or an equivalent amount of your favorite cooking oil
6 small leeks sliced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 package TJ's chicken-less strips (8 oz diced tofu would work well here too)

4c cubed stale bread
finely chopped herbs of your choice-- I used most of a bunch of sage, rosemary, and thyme-- divided in half
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

1. First, start the squash: preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Slice the kabocha squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the guts and set aside. (You can roast the seeds just like pumpkin seeds, but I didn't because I am lazy. To the compost bin!)
3. Lightly brush cut side of the squash with oil, then place cut side down on a prepared baking sheet. The squash will produce liquid as it bakes so I highly recommend a rimmed baking sheet/dish here!
4. Bake for 35 minutes.

5. Now, the stuffing: melt earth balance in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.
6. When EB is melted, increase heat to medium and add in sliced leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
7. Add in diced celery and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Finally, add in the protein (chicken-less strips or tofu) and half of your chopped herbs, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

9. While waiting in steps 6-8, mix together the remaining stuffing ingredients in a large bowl: stale bread, half of the chopped herbs, salt, black pepper.
10. When leek mixture is done cooking, pour/scrape into the bowl with the bread in and it and toss well. It should be somewhat moist-- if it seems bone dry, you can add 2 tbsps of soy milk or a little more earth balance.

11. When the squash has baked for 35 minutes, remove from oven and flip halves over so that they are bowls. Stuff each side with stuffing. You can pack it in as firmly as you please, but your squash will probably be pretty fragile so just be mindful that you're not splitting open the sides.
12. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until stuffing is browned on top.

We found that a quarter of a squash (half of one of the halves) made for a hearty dinner for each adult. Like so:

More kabocha

It turned out really yummy. To our surprise, the Emperor liked it too-- he tried everything except the celery and didn't freak out about the fact that there were like, herbs, TOUCHING THE REST OF HIS FOOD. This is big, people. He expressed mixed feelings about the squash itself-- "I don't know if this is yummy"-- but loved the cooked bread and chicken-less strips.

Here is a picture I snapped of him in bed. It's not very good but like I mentioned, I was pretty distracted at the time. It does capture our recent bedtime zeitgeists though:


Footie jammies (glow in the dark dinosaurs), Funny Baby, water bottle, and an awesome red quilt one of Josh's former co-workers made for him. All the important things for bedtime.

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