Stuffed butternut squash

Autumn is here! And with it, fallen leaves, rainy days, shorter day-light hours, and EVERYTHING PUMPKIN! I’ve always had such a fascination with pumpkins and squashes, since they didn’t use to be that common where I grew up. As a matter of fact, I remember carving melons for Halloween instead, because pumpkins would be too difficult to find – and possibly expensive-. I have to give the credit of that idea to my mum, who was always finding creative ways to entertain me and my friends at parties. And as much as I love the summertime – that’s the summer child in me, born end of July in the Mediterranean – I go nuts as soon as I see the first signs of autumn available in the supermarket!

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So here goes: my first autumn-y recipe (and there’ll be many more to come!)

  • one butternut squash
  • 500g minced meat (I used beef)
  • 1 big onion or 2 small ones
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper
  • sumac
  • sweet paprika powder
  • rosemary, sage, or any other herb you might like
  • grated cheese
  1. Wash the butternut squash and slice in half. Roast in the oven at 200º for about an hour, or until a fork can go through the flesh without resistance. Let cool enough to handle.
  2. Slice the onion thinly and caramelize.
  3. Brown the garlic clove in with the onion, and pick it out before it burns. This will give it flavour without it being too overpowering.
  4. Add the mince to the onion together with the sumac and sweet paprika powder, season to taste and cook to medium. Turn the heat off. If you don’t like your meat medium, it will continue cooking later in the oven, so don’t worry about it!
  5. Take the butternut squash halves and hollow them out as if to make “boats”. Add the flesh to the mince and onion and roughly mix.
  6. Scoop out the mix and fill the squash, and add grated cheese on top. Put in the oven at 200º for another 10-15 minutes, and you’re good to go!

BONUS TIPS:

  • There’s a wide variety of cheeses you can use to mix this recipe up: gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, feta, old Amsterdam…
  • Same goes for the herbs and spices: sage and rosemary are my favourites for this recipe, but oregano also pairs very well, and so do cinammon and cumin.
  • You could also knock yourself out and add two teaspoons of brown sugar to the onion while it’s caramelizing. This will give it such a contrast of flavours!

Chicken mayonnaise

 

Another family treasure: the chicken mayonnaise or leftover mayonnaise. Or the how-to-make-leftovers-into-another-meal base recipe.

My dad used to make this a lot when I was little, and before him my grandmother, and before that my great grandmother. This is another one of those recipes that I’ve taken over by now. It’s perfect for the day after a chicken roast or a fish dinner. It’s also quite a fuss-free meal – my favourite!-. The face my brother and me would make when dad said we were having this for dinner said it all! It’s easy to make, perfect for hot weather, but still hearty enough for a winter meal as well. And the best is that you can put it together with a wide variety of side dishes, depending on how healthy you want to be.

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That seasoning tho… Here I used garlic powder, sweet paprika, salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice

You’ll start this recipe with the basic mayonnaise recipe that you can find here.

  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Leftover chicken or fish, clean and without bones
  • Some olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, herbs and spices to taste
  1. Shred the leftovers by pulsing them in a food processor. Alternatively you can chop them up really small.
  2. Once you have a mince of sorts, pour one or two tablespoons of oil and mix well.
  3. Add the mayonnaise and mix together until it has a paste consistency, sort of a spread. I tend to add the mayonnaise a few tablespoons at a time, to make sure I get the right consistency instead of adding it all at once. It depends on how big the amount of leftovers is.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste, and any other herbs or spices you like.

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BONUS TIPS:

  • This is where you get creative. Curry and dijon mustard are two favourites of mine (not together though!). Basil, rosemary, cilantro, sundried tomatoes… Feel free to experiment, I’ll be happy to read your comments telling me what you discovered!

 

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