Embracing a plant-based stuffed butternut squash for your Christmas dinner or family roast brings forth a plethora of health benefits, starting with the star ingredient itself: the butternut squash. Rich in fibre, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants, this vibrant squash supports eye health, bolsters immunity, and aids in digestion, making it a nutritional powerhouse at the heart of this festive dish.
Complementing this, the lentils step in with their high protein content and fibre, promoting satiety and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Their presence enhances heart health and assists in maintaining a balanced diet. Additionally, the combination of walnuts rolled oats, and dried fruits like apricots and cranberries introduces a wealth of nutrients—omega-3 fatty acids, essential minerals, and antioxidants—that contribute to brain health, reduced inflammation, and overall well-being.
The medley of herbs—thyme, rosemary, and sage—adds more than just flavour; they offer anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, boosting the immune system and potentially aiding in stress reduction. The use of tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce, provides a savoury umami taste while keeping the dish free from animal products, supporting heart health and lowering cholesterol. Finally, the touch of maple syrup not only adds a delightful sweetness but also brings forth antioxidants and nutrients like zinc and manganese. Together, these ingredients create a wholesome, plant-based masterpiece that’s both nourishing and delightful for your holiday table.
Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 large brown onion finely diced
- 225 grams button mushrooms finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 50 grams dried apricots finely diced
- 40 grams dried cranberry
- 1 can lentils drained and rinsed
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 4 leave sage
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 200℃ (400℉)
- Slice the squash lengthways down the middle and place each side on a lined baking tray. Add around the squash other roast vegetables (baby potatoes, kumara (sweet potatoes), carrot, cashews, cranberries).
- Place in oven and cook for 45 minutes to soften slightly
- Meanwhile, we start on the stuffing. Blend the rolled oats in a food processor for around 30 seconds on pulse to create coarse flour.
- Next add in the lentils, walnuts and apricots, and pulse until all is coarsely chopped but not a paste. Set aside.
- In a frying pan, dry-fry with a small amount of water the onions until they are translucent. Then add in the mushrooms and garlic, and saute for 6-8 minutes.
- Add in the herbs and gently mix through. Then add all the other ingredients, including the rolled oats mix, but excluding the squash. Mix and heat through, and set aside.
- Once the squash is roasted, scoop out the seeds and discard.
- Next using a spoon scoop out a channel down both pieces of squash at the same depth and the seed casing area.
- Add the stuffing mix inside the scooped out sides, pressing in firmly and joining both squashes together. Tie it securely with some string to hold it together while it cooks.
- Place the squash back in the oven still with the other vegetables for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork.