Fall is upon us, so of course all I can think of is gourds. Pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash, not to mention leftover zucchini, which I used for this recipe. I started reflecting on a recent recipe I’ve been making over and over and how versatile it is for stuffing... anything. Here’s a breakdown of how to create a festive autumn dish, with or without meat or dairy, that will please any crowd.
Any kind of squashOlive oil or other fine oilSalt and pepper1-3 lbs of protein, if preferred (e.g. chicken, tofu, beef, turkey)Assortment of complementary vegetablesFor this recipe I used:½ small onion, chopped wellFlesh of scooped out zucchini, chopped well2 frying peppers, chopped well1 large carrot, shreddedAssorted herbs, chopped very fineSome kind of binding/fillerFor this recipe I used:Breadcrumbs (could be rice, macaroni, cornmeal)Sharp grated cheese or vegan cheese, about a cup or more depending on serving sizeOptional: Feel free to add some sweet cranberries or raisins
Preheat oven to broil.
Depending on your chosen gourd, either cut in half or remove the top by carving a large circle. Remove all seeds and if there is a lot of flesh, like in a sugar pumpkin, remove some with a melon baller or spoon and add to vegetable medley for stuffing. Salt and pepper the inside liberally, and coat with oil.
Broil until the flesh really starts to soften, but do not over-broil. Once the outer skin just begins to turn brown, remove from oven.
In the meantime, heat a cast iron pan to high heat over the strongest burner on your stove. Really, really heat that pan! Add onions first, and if using protein, season with salt and pepper, add to pan, and brown well. Remove protein and onion from pan and toss in well-chopped, seasoned vegetables. You want the vegetables chopped fine enough to make good stuffing. Now, sauté those vegetables until they just begin to caramelize. Add protein and onion back in and toss in fresh herbs.
Lightly sprinkle in breadcrumbs or other starch, not much, just until the stuffing starts sticking together lightly in clumps. Then add a bit of shredded cheese, again, just until stuffing thickens a bit.
Fill all gourds to brimming and cover with remaining shredded cheese. Broil until the cheese browns evenly and there is a little char on the gourds. Enjoy!