Mom’s BSI Submission: Date, Feta, and Toasted Nut Stuffed Butternut Squash
So there was a huge butternut squash that was begging to be used.
Then you said, “Mom, you should enter the BSI recipe contest.” So with that in mind, we trotted off to BJ’s and got this large bag of dates. I was reading the list of already-submitted recipes and one was ‘Butternut Date Puree,’ so I thought, “Well I can’t do that.”
My first date recipe creation was supposed to be some amazing date pudding thing but it was too ambiguous when done and just wasn’t right. But there I was with the butternut squash that needed to be used and decided to do a variation of my original pudding plan. Last night at a family birthday party, I enlisted everyone to help me come up with a name for the recipe while we were all sitting around eating birthday cake (chocolate cake with Wallen’s fudge frosting!). There were a lot of really ‘interesting’ suggestions (like John’s idea – “datenut butternut give the dog a bone”…) but we haven’t settled on the right one yet.
Large butternut squash
1 medium onion
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plain or flavored)
1. Wash large butternut squash.
2. Cut at base of the neck into two pieces, a tube and a bulb. Trim the ends off, slice the tube into three lengthwise wedges. Leave the bulb intact. Clean out the seeds and pulp – (the seeds are yummy if washed and toasted separately!). Place face-down on a cookie sheet and roast at 300 to 375 for about an hour.
3. While the squash is roasting, chop almonds into small pieces and toast in oven on cookie sheet for 20-30 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add chopped walnuts to the almonds to toast as well.
4. Take out toasted nuts, cool for 15-20 minutes then add 6 chopped dates to the nuts in a small mixing bowl. Add a generous amount of ground cinnamon, and smaller amount of ground cardamom to the nut-date mix and stir. Put aside.
5. Stick a fork into the squash which is done if the fork goes in easily.
Scoop out the cooked butternut flesh leaving about a half inch thickness remaining with the skin to form ‘bowls’ which can be put aside.
6. Mash the removed squash, sprinkle in ground cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper, turmeric, cumin, tbsp of lemon juice and mix together in medium bowl (adjust spices to your taste).
7. Saute a medium diced onion in extra virgin olive oil (I used oil flavored with homegrown rosemary and garlic cloves but plain is OK, too), salt, and pepper until onions are translucent and soft, but not browned (instead of adding more oil, I used a little water to finish cooking the onions).
8. Stir cooked onions into the squash mix adding more cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Heat the mix at 300 degress in an oven proof container for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
9. While squash mix is heating, chop 3 to 4 dates into small pieces and crumble a quarter cup feta into these chopped dates in a small bowl.
10. Take heated squash out of oven, let cool briefly (5-10 minutes) and stir in the date-feta mix.
11. Adjust spicing again, then mound the mix into the squash ‘bowls’. Make a depression in the mounded squash mix.
12. Add one half cup of crumbled feta to the date-nut mix that had been put aside earlier, stir and spoon generous piles of it into the depressions in the squash filling letting extra spill over (for presentation).
13. Put filled and topped squash bowls into 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes (or till heated through).
14. Remove from heat.
15. Slice and serve so a cross section of the bowls, squash mix and topping is visible (again, for presentation):
You get as many servings as the squash is big. It’s pretty, healthy, yummy, and filling. Sunday night we had it for dinner with a side salad and it was awesome –
P.S. One of the pictures is a small ramekin with a little leftover of the squash mixture, a few left over roasted butternut cubes, some toasted butternut seeds and a few nuts and dates and feta sprinkled on it. This will be a great snack during the week: