This week found me back in St. Pete, FL… most evenings, I ate dinner from Meze 119–a vegetarian/vegan restaurant quite near my hotel. The first night in, I had their stuffed squash and knew I’d have to experiment with some stuffed squash of my own when I got home. I very much enjoyed theirs, but as I’m not one to want what I consider the darker, deeper Mediterranean spices on a regular basis (as this dish did), and with so many possibilities, I looked forward to it as much as I was looking forward to getting home!
A few years back, I made a stuffed squash recipe that was pretty good, but it was the pre-vegetarian days and at that time, I didn’t have a good appreciation for squash (outside zucchini and some pumpkin). When you become vegetarian, your tastes do change quite a bit. These days, you might actually find me not only drooling over a slab of roasted squash but wondering aloud which one I haven’t tried yet that I should. As such, today I started to reach for the familiar acorn squash when the sign in Whole Foods caught my attention; it was listing the different varieties available on the table and I knew immediately, I had to try the Buttercup Squash.
Those who have traveled with me know I often seek out the dining choice of the evening by name. There are other factors I look at, but if the name doesn’t strike me, it strikes out quickly. (More often than not I use FourSquare as my starting point, if someone locally has listed it and there’s some good buzz, it gets my consideration.)
Back to the squash… I got home and immediately sliced it open and put it in the oven for the first roast. While that was going on, I contemplated what to put in it when it came out. This wasn’t something to be eaten immediately, and most likely would be something for lunch this week. I remembered I saw a little millet I had left when I was putting away the groceries and dug it out, throwing together various things from the cupboard and fridge. What I ended up with was a flavorful stuffing that complements the container nicely.
Spicy Millet Stuffed Squash
2 small squash, halved and seeded
3/4 cup millet
1 1/2 cup stock
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tamari
1 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon safflower
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste
- Roast squash cut side up for 25-30 minutes until fork tender at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 350.
- Add millet and stock to a heavy bottom pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered until water is almost all absorbed (about 10 minutes).
- Add tomato sauce, tamari and spinach and stir to incorporate and heat through.
- Remove from heat. Mix in garlic, onion, safflower and chili.
- Carefully fill each half of squash with the millet mixture until slightly mounded.
- Place the filled squash in baking dish and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until slightly browned on the edges.
Note: If you are preparing in advance, the stuffed squash can be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen. If refrigerated, increase cook time in the last step to 25-30 minutes in oven preheated to 350. For frozen, allow approximately 45-55 minutes, stirring the filling about midway through.