The leaves are starting to fall, the evenings are shortening and pumpkin season is in full swing so you will love this recipe for roasted stuffed butternut squash. It is rich and filling as well as very comforting. Butternut squash has a naturally sweet flavour when roasted and is complemented with a savoury smoky and nutty filling. You know me, I like my flavours, textures and aromas all wrapped up together!
To begin this recipe I roast the butternut squash first as it gives it a smoky sweet flavour. I then scoop out most of the sweet flesh before combining it with a savoury filling of freekeh, leeks, Serrano ham, aromatic spices and then topped with pomegranate seeds for that extra bit of crunch. Cooking the freekeh to al dente adds texture and a good bite to the overall dish. The ham gives the filling a smoky salty flavour. Add the feta cheese or nutritional yeast (for vegans), pine nuts, toasted cumin seeds, seasoning and fresh herbs. That’s what I call a perfect roasted stuffed butternut squash, but you can also make it with round pumpkins!
For those of you who are not familiar with freekeh it is the latest in a number of superfoods to grace our health store shelves. It is a wheat wholegrain which is picked when young and green, then toasted and cracked. This lessens the cooking time to 20 minutes. It is high in fibre, in fact it has three times the fibre and protein of brown rice so is a favourite among those who want to lose or maintain their weight easily. It is high in essential nutrients but as it is a wheat grain it is not gluten free. Freekeh should be cooked to the ratio 2:1 liquid to grain in 20 minutes and once cooked it has a smoky and nutty flavour with a chewy texture.
Butternut squash is high in carotene with a good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and Vitamins B1 and B6. It is high in fibre so is excellent for digestion and well being.
Roast the butternut squash and scoop out the flesh to mix with the filling.
Top with pomegranate seeds and serve with a green salad. So filling and so so satisfying!
If you like this then you will love my recipe for Mediterranean Smoky Grilled Aubergine.
- 2 medium butternut squash
- 2 small leeks, chopped
- 6 slices Serrano ham, diced (omit for vegans)
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 200g freekeh, rinsed
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 100g feta cheese (or 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for vegans)
- 50g pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds.
Brush with olive oil and 1 teaspoon paprika. Season with salt and pepper and place on a greased baking tray. Cook for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft. leave to cool.
Now cook the freekeh. Add the freekeh to a saucepan with some olive oil. Turn on the heat and add paprika, tomato puree, turmeric and one star anise and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the star anise and cover for 10 minutes.
Chop the leeks and sweat in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add chopped Serrano ham and chopped garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Reserve for the filling.
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a moderate heat, stirring continuously.
Scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash leaving half an inch at the sides. Place in a bowl and add the cooked freekeh, leek mixture and pine nuts. Crumble in the feta cheese. Add the chopped parsley and cumin seeds. Mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Reduce the oven to 180°C. Fill the butternut squash with the filling and bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
Serve with a green salad and top with pomegranate seeds.
For a gluten free recipe replace the freekeh with quinoa and cook in the same way for 15 minutes. For a vegan recipe replace the feta cheese with nutritional yeast and omit the Serrano ham.