Stuffed Kabocha Squash
Whether you’re gathering to give thanks, celebrating the harvest, or hosting a holiday meal with family and friends, this plant-based main is sure to delight omnivores, flexitarians, and vegans of all ages. Flavourful, deceptively filling, and absolutely stunning to serve, our Stuffed Kabocha Squash is a fitting way to greet the season together.
For the squash:
- 1 kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin), about 2 – 3 pounds (0.8kg – 1.3kg)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the stuffing:
- 7 or 8 slices of Sprouted Organic Heritage Grain Big Red’s Bread™, cubed
- ½ pint cremini or button mushrooms, chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ red onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 stalks of kale, sliced into thin strips
- 1 apple, diced
- ¼ cup apple juice
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Fresh sage, to taste (or 1 tsp dried ground sage)
- Fresh thyme, to taste (or 1 Tbsp dried whole thyme)
- 2 Tbsp non-dairy buttery spread
- 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 ° Using a serrated knife, cut bread slices into cubes (3/4” – 1”), then toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread seasoned bread cubes on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned, flipping halfway through the bake time to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and set aside. (Leave the oven on for your squash).
- Chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces (depending on how much of a mushroom fan you and your guests are, chop larger for more mushroomy texture, or smaller if you’re feeding a pickier crowd). Dice onions and mince garlic. If using fresh thyme, remove leaves from woody stems. If using fresh sage, stack several leaves together, and finely chiffonade (slice into fine strips). Core and chop apple into ¼” – ½” dice. Cut the stems out of the kale stalks, and slice kale leaves into ¼” strips.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, and sauté for 1 minute before adding garlic and mushrooms. Add thyme and sage (season by smell!), and sauté until onions are translucent, and mushrooms are starting to soften. Add apples and continue to sauté until onions and mushrooms are starting to caramelize, and apples are al denté (tender, but not soft). Add sliced kale, and sauté until just wilted. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, combine baked bread cubes, sautéed vegetable mixture, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
- In a glass measuring cup, combine apple juice, water, and tamari. Melt a generous pat (about 2 tablespoons) of your favourite non-dairy buttery spread and pour both liquids over bread cube and vegetable mixture. Toss together until the mixture is just damp. Set aside.
- Wash kabocha squash. Cut in half across the middle of the squash (horizontally, not vertically). Remove seeds* and scrape inside clean. Prick skin of squash with the tip of a sharp knife in several places spread evenly over the entire squash. Lightly oil the inside of the squash with remaining olive oil.
- Bake the squash.
Slow Roast Method:
Place squash halves cut-side down/skin-side up on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375°. Remove from the oven, and carefully turn squash over. Fill squash halves with stuffing and return to oven on parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until squash is tender when poked with a fork.
Place squash halves in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a paper towel (or clean dishcloth), and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Place your squash halves cut side down/skin-side up on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Bake for 10 minutes at 375° F. Remove from oven, and carefully turn squash over. Fill squash halves with stuffing and return to oven on parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for 10 more minutes, or until squash is tender when poked with a fork.
(Depending on the size of your kabocha, you may have extra stuffing that doesn’t fit in your squash halves. Bake this in an oven-safe dish alongside your stuffed squash, and serve as a side, or to appease squash skeptics and picky kids).
- To serve, slice squash halves into wedges, making sure to include a generous heap of stuffing on each guest’s plate. Garnish with additional pumpkin seeds, or optional condiments like our easy-to-make Orange Cranberry Chia Relish. (A note about the skin: roasted kabocha squash skin is delicate, edible—and delicious!—when cooked, but squash skeptics can easily scoop out the squash and leave the skin on the side of their plate).
Alternative serving presentation:
To present a whole stuffed kabocha at table, bake using either method up to the filling stage. Flip both halves, but fill only the bottom half of the squash, over-stuffing so the stuffing is heaped as high as gravity will reasonably allow. Return to oven for remaining baking time. Before bringing to the dinner table, gently place the unstuffed top half of the squash over the mound of stuffing on the bottom half, and present as a whole stuffed kabocha. To serve, remove the top half to a second serving dish, divide the stuffing between the halves, and cut into wedges, as above.
* Like pumpkin seeds, kabocha seeds can be roasted and eaten. To roast yours, separate seeds from kabocha guts, and rinse. Toss lightly with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Season with salt, herbs, spices, or other seasonings to taste (we’re fond of salt and a little granulated garlic!). Roast in a 325 °F oven for 15 – 20 minutes, flipping halfway through the cook time. Seeds are ready when lightly golden brown.