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  • Danny Hutchines

Christmasly stuffed Butternuts

So it is the week of Christmas and although travel chaos and new restrictions loom Christmas is still happening and we all know what these days are all about... no not presents but Food! I am sure everyone has their own traditional dishes that they serve on Christmas eve, Christmas day and that awkward time between Christmas and New Years where nobody knows what day it is, and these dishes are often passed down from one generation to another.


It is with this in mind that last year I made a stuffed Butternut squash for Christmas dinner. It went down really well with everyone who tried it, as well as adding that "Christmassy" feeling to our veggie meal. The plan was to just go ahead and make the same recipe again this year.... until we tried another stuffing last weekend and now we are torn ! But don't worry, Christmas isn't ruined, I will just be making both ! And sharing both recipes with you too.


The Star of both these dishes is the Butternut themselves. Not only does it bring its beautiful Orange/Yellow colour to the table but plenty of goodness too. These squashes which are perfect for growing in our cooler climate and pack a nutritional punch; their colour shows that they are high in carotenoids, a vital plant pigment which gives the butternut its distinctive colour but these get converted into Vitamin A for the body. Besides this they are also high in Vitamin C, both of these vitamins being crucial in keeping up a healthy immune system. High in magnesium, potassium and manganese these squashes are also perfect for bone health, eye health and tissue/cell repair.


Whatever you decide to cook this Christmas the whole Letzgrow team wishes you a very Merry Christmas and nothing but Health and Happiness for 2021 !






Now on to the recipes...



Butternut prep.:


For both of these recipes you will need a butternut squash.

To prepare these simply slice them in two and remove all the seeds. Rub with Olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place them face down in the oven for around 45 minutes at 200°C.


Once you can put a knife through the flesh comfortably, remove the squashes from the oven. Using a spoon to scoop out some of the meat and place in a bowl to one side for later. You want to scoop out leaving around 1cm from the skin.


Stuffing #1 - Festive Lentils cooked in Red Wine

Ingredients:

- Olive Oil

- 1 red onion (cut in fine cubes)

- 2 garlic cloves (cut in fine cubes)

- 100g lentils

- 100g cranberries

- 2 stalks rosemary leaves (finely chopped)

- 2 stalks fresh thyme (remove stalks)

- 1 teaspoon nutmeg ground

- 75ml red wine

- 250ml vegetable stock

- good handful of baby spinach

- 100g pistachios


Method:

  1. In a frying pan add olive oil, onions and garlic and cook over a gentle heat until softened.

  2. Add uncooked lentils, cranberries, rosemary, thyme leaves, nutmeg red wine and veggie stock. Stir around and let simmer gently for around 30 minutes or until Lentils have softened. If needed you can add water if you see that lentils have absorbed all the juices. Keep stirring them regularly

  3. Add your squash flesh to the pan and mash in with a fork and add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Add in pistachios and baby spinach and scoop stuffing into your 2 halfs of butternut. Once filled generously reform your butternut and tie together with string every 3-4cm to ensure it is nicely solid.

  5. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and you are ready to serve.

Stuffing #2 - Nutty mushrooms

- Olive oil

- 1 red onion (cut in fine cubes)

- 2 garlic cloves (cut in fine cubes)

- 100g chestnuts (roasted)

- 75g pecans

- 50g dried apricots

- 200g mushrooms (I used a mix of our portabellos and giant whites)

- 1 stalk rosemary leaves (finely chopped)

- 4 sage leaves (finely chopped)

- 150g lentils (cooked)

- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

- 2 tablespoons maple syrup

- 2 tablespoons cranberries

- leafy greans (Kale, Baby spinach, Swiss Chard are all great)


Method:

  1. To a blender add the pecans, chestnuts and dried apricots and reduce to crumbs.

  2. Fry up garlic, finely chopped mushrooms, rosemary, sage with a pinch of salt and pepper for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the cooked lentils, tamari, and nut crumbs. cook together on a low heat for 5 minutes

  4. In a seperate pan fry up your red onion until softened before adding maple syrup and cranberries.

  5. Mix onions in with the rest, adding your Butternut flesh to the mix.

  6. Add your leafy greens to the butternut halves before adding your stuffing.

  7. Tie both halves together and place in the oven for 10 minutes.


Either of these dishes are great as the center piece of your Christmas dinner, served with potatoes, roasted veggies (brussel spouts and parsnips have always been our Christmas go to) or as a side dish to be enjoyed by everyone.


Bon Appétit !



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