Oh wonderful squash, how I love thee.
You catch my eye with your vibrant colors and crazy shapes.
You nourish my body with your wealth of nutrients.
You tantalize my taste buds with your sweet, creamy meat.
And you present yourself nicely when I’m done cooking you!
What more could a girl ask for?
Well, notice that I said “girl” and not “girl or boy.” When it comes to squash, Nate really only likes the summer variety…but I was convinced it was because he’d never tried the winter kind cooked my way.
Wrong, he’s still wary of winter squash.
BUT I will say that last night he thoroughly enjoyed the Orzo & Mushroom Stuffed Squash that I made as our all-inclusive side dish. See? You just have to add a little pasta and garlic and he and I both will be all in!
As for the cooking method, I highly recommend you bake your squash. Yes, it takes a little longer to prepare than a microwave (which is what I used last night), but the consistency will be infinitely better. I used kabocha squash, but you could really use any kind you like!
ORZO & MUSHROOM STUFFED SQUASH
- 1 kabocha squash, cut in half and seeds removed (acorn and butternut squash would work great here as well)
- 1/3 pound orzo pasta
- 5-6 cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quarter the caps (white button mushrooms would taste fine too)
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 Tbsp butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of nutmeg (and when I say pinch, I mean pinch!)
- 2 slices provolone cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the inside of your squash halves. Place them cut-side down in the pan and roast for 40-50 minutes. The time will all depend on the size of the squash, but you want the meat to be very soft and tender. Also, once the squash is done, slice off a TINY sliver of the skin from the bottom before you turn it over. This will help stabilize the squash halves for the stuffing.
While the squash is baking, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain when the pasta reaches al dente and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Saute the mushrooms in the butter (don’t add salt!) until they start to turn a golden brown. Toss in the garlic and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the pasta. Add the ricotta cheese and nutmeg, and stir until combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Now it’s time to stuff!
Set the oven to broil. Very carefully turn each squash half over so that the cut side is now facing up. Spoon in the orzo mixture until you reach the top of the squash half. Top with provolone cheese (or breadcrumbs would be good too). Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve hot!
Y’all, like I said before, this preparation was a game-changer for Nate (speaking of game-changers, here’s a great post about a BIG one!) I know I shouldn’t get carried away. I mean, I know he’s still a little suspicious of roasting cubes of butternut squash for soups and baking acorn squash with cinnamon and sugar, but it’s a start. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
P.S. Thank you all so much in advance for voting for me in Project Food Blog! I’ll find out today if I had enough to move to Round 3…and I promise not to disappoint if I did!