One of my favorite ways to cook winter squash is to roast it simply with lemon, salt, and pepper, as I did in this dish featuring quinoa. So when I brought home several beautifully striped sweet dumpling squash and started thinking about how to use them, my first impulse was toward the simple lemon treatment.
But these little cuties were just the perfect size for stuffing, and it would have been a shame not to take advantage of that. I decided to combine the two impulses and stuff them with a old favorite—lemon-herb rice.
I served these stuffed squash as a side rather than a main dish, alongside baked tofu. But if you’d like to make them the centerpiece of a meal, try sautéing cubes of lemon-marinated tempeh along with the onion and increase the amount of soy sauce and herbs a little. If you’re preparing them for your holiday meal, they can be made ahead of time: After you fill the cooked squash with the rice mixture, cover them tightly and refrigerate. Put them into the oven about a half hour before serving.
Sweet Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Lemon-Herb Rice
- 3 Sweet Dumpling or other small winter squash
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 1/4 cup water
- juice of 1/2 large lemon (such as Meyer)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1/8 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1/8 cup minced fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds and strings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place face-down on an oiled baking sheet (I used a silicone sheet liner). Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender. (Different types of squash will take different lengths of time. Test by piercing with a fork in thickest areas.) Remove from oven but keep oven turned on.
- While the squash are cooking, prepare the lemon-herbed rice. Heat a non-stick pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rice, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice and zest, soy sauce, and herbs. Stir well, cover, and cook on low heat just until warm. Add the toasted pine nuts and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Stuff the rice into the cavities of the squash. Place them upright in a baking dish and drizzle about a teaspoon of water over each. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until hot throughout. Serve warm, garnished with additional fresh herbs, if desired.
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