Chicken Stuffed Butternut Squash
July 4, 2011

Especially when trying to eat healthfully, the most satisfying meals are the best ones. The kind of meal you crave after a long day or on a cold evening. Butternut squash stuffed with ground chicken is warm, savory and incredibly filling while still being a healthy portion size, and is also high in protein and fiber. The fresh herbs, pine nuts, and tomato paste give this dish depth and richness and help to make the stuffing mixture strong enough to still be flavorful when eaten with the plain butternut squash shell. I love adding any sort of fun or whimsy to meals when I can, and eating from an edible bowl certainly gives it that element. The use of white meat along with added healthy fats keep this meal wholesome, and butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A amongst its other nutrition.

Homemade breadcrumbs are best in this recipe, which are made by simply chopping up old bread in a food processor. They can of course be used immediately, but it's one of the best ways to salvage a leftover loaf, and the stored crumbs can be defrosted and used in many recipes. Store bought crumbs work well enough, and Japanese Panko Crumbs can be substituted for an extra crunchy texture in the stuffing. The vegetable stock can be substituted with chicken stock for a meatier flavor if desired. I specified that cooked squash can saved and used for another purpose, but the top of the squash can be left on and served if you desire a larger meal. The assembled squash can be drizzled with olive oil or topped with Parmesan for extra flavor and a crunchy layer on top of the stuffing if added calories are not a concern. The fresh herbs, while wonderful and fragrant, can be expensive and dried herbs can be used instead- just be sure to substitute a much smaller amount as dried herbs are a much more concentrated flavor. The choice of herbs can be omitted or changed entirely in order to create a differently flavored dish- like most of my recipes, this dish is very versatile in that way.

Chicken Stuffed Butternut Squash
Kathleen Neumark

2 medium Butternut Squash
1 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 & 12 cups chopped Yellow Onion
2 large Garlic Clove
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Sage
2 teaspoons fresh Thyme Leaves
2 teaspoons chopped Fresh Rosemary
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound Ground Chicken
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Cooking Sherry
1 small pack of Button Mushrooms, sliced and chopped
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
Salt and Pepper to Taste
14 cup toasted Pine Nuts, toasted
1 cup Bread Crumbs (Homemade, Panko, or Regular)
12 to 1 cup Veggie Stock, to proper consistency

Preheat oven to 375. Cut Squashes in half lengthways. Scoop out seeds and pulp from the middle. On a large cookie sheet (you may need two), place water two-thirds up the sides of the sheet(s). Place squashes face-down on the pan(s). Place in oven, and bake until the flesh is fairly soft, making sure the water doesn't all evaporate. If it is running low, add another cup to the pan. To test that the sqush is done, turn the squash over and poke the flesh with a fork. The flesh needs to be just soft, since it will be baked again.

Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Once heated, add onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften. Add herbs, remaining olive oil, and ground chicken. Cook mixture, while chopping up the ground chicken with your spatula. When chicken is beginning to brown, add sherry and scrape the pan to deglaze. Add the Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms are soft, and the chicken is fully cooked. Add tomato paste and then salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts and bread crumbs. Stir in vegetable broth, enough to wet the bread crumbs into a thick mixture.

Take squashes, and cut off the top (the part without the hole). You want enough squash left above the hole so that the sides all the way around are the same thickness. Save the squash for another purpose. Fill all four holes with even amounts of chicken mixture.

Bake at 400 until mixture is the top is browned and the middle is hot, around 20 minutes.

Calories*: 445 Fat*: 19 g Carbs*: 45 g Cholesterol*: 135 mg
Sugar*: 5 g Fiber*: 8 g Protein*: 27 g Servings*: 4 (1 Squash Bowl each)

Ease*: 7/10 Categories: Main Dish
Total Time*: 75 minutes Active Time*: 30 minutes
Kosher: Meat


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