All day long I have been under the misapprehension that Thanksgiving is this Thursday. With a wee panic I have been peeling, chopping, mixing, roasting…burning my hand. But, I have literally just popped ‘Thanksgiving Day 2013′ (with my good hand) into a well-known search engine and see with relief that it is the 28th. The 28th, *sigh*. And, glory be, I’m not working. Woo hoo!
It’s a proper, audible woo hoo because the chocolate-walnut pumpkin pie – sitting Siren-like on the countertop – can now be demolished; its burnished, gooey top soon to be breached by a trio of greedy spoons. Bliss. But first we will tuck into these kale stuffing-stuffed butternut squash stacks – trying saying that three times quickly :D. We’ll have them with steamed Brussels sprouts, braised celery and some homemade za’atar bread. I know the latter doesn’t strictly ‘go,’ but you know me and za’atar…
Although I know that Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November, every year I get caught out by this most celebrated of American holidays; barely managing to cobble something together for ourselves, let along for the blog. I am also usually working that evening, so our Scots-American celebration is rarely the feast that it should be. But this year I am accidentally organised – with lists and everything. But a week early. So, I should have time to slip under the wire for timeous festive posting a few more dishes, savoury and sweet. If not, there is always Christmas!
These easily assembled stacks can be a main or a side, vegan or meaty, made ahead or on the day. Change out the herbs if you like and feel free to use any sturdy bread – stale is perfect. Or a combination of bread and crackers, or crumbled cornbread. You could even use za’atar, but I will resist. :D
This week I am hooking up with Mark for his weekly Made With Love Mondays roundup (his own crescent dinner rolls look fab!) and over to Heather for her Sweet Wednesday Link Party: Heather’s Apple Crumble Shortbread Pie sounds quite an intriguing mash-up of ideas:D. Both sites are great places to find a diverse range of festive foods.
Last year: So-Cocoa Granola
Two years ago: Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry Laksa
Miss R’s track of the week: LA Calling by Crystal Fighters
Whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas or a nice wintry family dinner, these little stuffed squash stacks hit the savoury and sweet spot. To make it super easy, roast the butternut squash a day or so ahead of time, as well as make up the stuffing; fill and bake the stacks on the big day – a good job for the kids while you get on with bigger tasks.
You will have more than enough stuffing for four stacks, so pop the leftovers in a small buttered dish, or wrap in blanched cabbage or kale leaves (wrapping the latter in foil) and bake alongside – or in a couple of day’s time.
2 good-sized butternut squashes, or other sweet hard squashes, peeled, deseeded and sliced into ½ inch disks – enough to make 4 good sized stacks (you won’t use all of the squash)
100g (2 ¾ cups/3.5 oz) country style bread, cut in small cubes (about ½ in)
50g (3 packed cups/1.8 oz) roughly chopped kale, ribs and stems removed
3 sausages of choice – vegetarian or meat (remove casings if meat)
Knob of butter (optional)
100g (3/4 cup/3.5 oz) onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp chopped fresh sage or thyme
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
225g (1 cup/7.8 fl oz) vegetable stock
Handful of pine nuts, optional
Panko crumbs or dried breadcrumbs
1. Some of the butternut squash disks will probably have holes where the seeds were. Whatever they are like, slick with a little oil and roast at 180C/350F for 15 minutes, or until softened. Set aside for a couple of minutes. When cool, cut out the middles of some of the squash disks, so that in total you have 4 solid disks and 8 rings. Keep the cut-outs.
2. At the same time, pop the bread cubes onto a baking tray and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the bread is dried out but not toasted. Pop the cubes into a large mixing bowl and set aside. (You can dry the bread up to a week ahead of time, keeping in a lidded box.)
3. While the squash is roasting, boil the kale for five minutes; drain and chop. Pop the cooked kale in the mixing bowl and set aside.
4. In a frying pan, crumble in the sausage and cook until browned. Crumble some more, until quite nubbly. Add the sausage to the mixing bowl.
5. Using the same pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil or a knob of butter and gently sauté the onion until translucent – about five minutes; add the garlic, celery, fennel seeds, paprika and sage. Stir and saute for a further 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetables to the mixing bowl along with the stock. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Add in the pine nuts, if using. If you can, let the stuffing sit quietly for half and hour before stuffing and baking the stacks.
6. Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Sprinkle panko crumbs or dried breadcrumbs into a baking dish. Put the whole squash disks into the dish and lay two rings on each.
7. Take the stuffing and press a few tablespoons into each stack – press really well and keep adding until it is overflowing. Sprinkle over the panko crumbs/bread crumbs. For each of the cut-outs take a tablespoon of stuffing, roll into a ball and press onto the squash disk.
8. Place the dish into the hot oven and bake 30 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the squash and stuffing are browned in patches. Serve warm.