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!