Forget the presents and your favourite soap’s Christmas cliffhanger – the best part of Christmas is sitting down to a spread with family and friends. Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, friendsmas, New Year’s Day and of course the big day itself are all likely to feature heaving tables of grub.
And if you’re looking for something a bit different to the usual meat-heavy fare – whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, catering to people who are, or just can’t face another pig in a blanket – try this granola-crusted, stuffed butternut squash dish, which is sure to elicit plenty of oohs and ahhs from the assembled guests.
The recipe is from the Vegetarian Society Cooking School’s suite of veggie Christmas recipes, which feature other mains, as well as sides and sweet treats. And if you’re stuck for a last-minute gift for the vegetarian, vegan or chef in your life, the Cookery School offers gift vouchers to its courses in Altrincham.
Hasselback Butternut Squash With Chestnut And Cranberry Granola Crust
Preparation: 50 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves four)
- ½ large butternut squash, washed, halved lengthwise, then de-seeded
For the stuffing
- 150g cooked quinoa (cooked as per packet instructions, with ½ vegetable stock cube for extra flavour)
- 1tsp rapeseed oil
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 50g kale, washed and roughly chopped
- Pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper
- 2tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1tsp wholegrain mustard
For the granola crust
- 10g pecans
- 20g chestnuts
- 15g dried cranberries
- 30g oats
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
- 2tbsp rapeseed oil
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
- Line a flat baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. Place the squash cut side down on the tray and bake for 35 minutes. This is to make sure it is soft enough to cut the hasselback slices.
- While your squash is roasting, make the stuffing. Heat the oil gently on a medium heat in a frying pan. Add the diced shallot, crushed garlic and the salt and black pepper. Cook gently, stirring regularly until the shallot starts to soften.
- Add the kale and continue to cook for five to seven minutes until the kale is wilted. Add the nutritional yeast, quinoa and mustard and stir well. Set aside until needed.
- After 35 minutes, remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut partially through the squash width-ways, along the whole length, at 1cm intervals. Don’t cut all the way through each slice – leave about 1cm still uncut to keep the squash in one piece. Your aim is create large enough slits to stuff, which will open out slightly during cooking. To be sure you don’t cut all of the way through the squash, lay a wooden spoon next to the squash so your knife will touch the spoon rather than the tray. This should give you about the right depth of slice.
- Using a teaspoon or small knife, push a little of your stuffing into each cut section, gently easing the slices apart to create a gap. Carry on in this way until you have filled all the sections. Don’t worry if the stuffing drops through the space where the seeds were – it will still cook through. Use all the stuffing if possible. Depending on the size of your squash, the filling may spill out of the side and the top, but this creates a lovely overstuffed appearance. Return the squash to the oven and roast for a further ten minutes.
- Next make the granola. Roughly chop the pecans, chestnuts and cranberries. Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
- After ten minutes, remove the squash from the oven. Using a pastry brush, generously oil the squash, paying particular attention to any exposed skin. Sprinkle your granola over the squash. You can cover the squash entirely or crust a wide line along the top of the squash.
- Return to the oven for a further 12 to 15 minutes. When cooked, the squash should be soft to the touch and the granola should be crisp. Any exposed kale may blacken slightly, which gives a great smoky flavour.
- Carefully transfer the squash to a long serving platter or wooden board. Serve as your centrepiece with roast potatoes, vegetables, plenty of cranberry sauce and gravy.
©The Vegetarian Society, reproduced with permission