Festive Food – Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks

stuffed-butternut-squash-stacksAll 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.  

butternut-squash-stacks

stuffed-butternut-squash-stacksKale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks

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)

Olive oil

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.

Serves 2-4 (will make up to 6 stacks plus some cut-outs)kale-stuffing-mixstuffed-butternut-squash-stacks-unbaked

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40 thoughts on “Festive Food – Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks

      • I’ve actually just got something similar to kale coming up in my backyard right now. “Cavalo Nero” which is an italian “black cabbage”. It’s really good in slow cooked dishes like soups and risottos. I’ll give it a try :)

      • I grow Cavalo Nero too, and use it as my preferred kale. Although it doesn’t keep growing in our Scottish winter, it goes into a kind of ‘standing hibernation’ and I keep picking it even as the snow is falling. A remarkably friendly plant! Funny to think it grows in both of our very different countries so well

  1. Looks like Thanksgiving to me! What really wowed me, though, was the laksa recipe. Reminds me of a simpler time in Malaysia, newlyweds before kids. I could totally make that at home. Perhaps it’s time…

  2. I know what you mean, Kellie! I miss Canadian Thanksgiving every year. It’s early in October so it just whizzes by me. Normally I get it together at least enough to make myself a pumpkin pie, but not this year! Oh well, I have enough American expats as friends here that I get a second chance. I love these butternut stacks! Butternut is the one squash that is easy to find here, so I find myself reaching for it often. This is a great idea and I’ll be trying it soon!

  3. I really love your idea of stacked rather than stuffed squash. There’s just something more appealing (maybe less overwhelming?) mentally to both preparing and eating a ‘deconstructed’ stuffed squash dish. We’re thinking along the same lines again b/c I just posted a deconstructed stuffed squash version as well. :-) And I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to have your za’atar bread recipe! I made a quick flatbread and sometimes add za’atar to it but I’m curious to know what you do!

  4. These look lovely. I am fixated on pumpkin at the moment, its my vegetable de jour. Cheers for the great recipe. We might not care about Thanksgiving here in Australia but we do thanksgive for tasty shares ;)

  5. These sound delicious, what a great recipe! I love the herb and spice flavours and they look wonderful too! I’ve included them in my Thanksgiving recipe round up! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. have a wonderful thanksgiving! I have just made a similarly stuffed squash (cut lengthways though) with rice and moong dal! (great minds eh?…!) seriously though I adore roasted squash and this makes such a wonderful and substantial meal without meat. Delicious.

  7. You thought Thanksgiving was a week early and my mom thinks she has an extra week left ;) So I guess this holiday is hard to keep pinned down :/ I love the sound of kale stuffing – how delicious and healthful! And I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong when you start with butternut squash…

  8. What a brilliant recipe, packed full of flavours and textures that i love. I think kale & butternut squash are up there on my favourite vegetables list and I must admit if I was choosing a sausage to go in this, it would have ti be M&S chorizo style sausages, they are superb!

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