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baked stuffed butternut squash

dsc_0383-1The last time we were visiting South Africa, my brother and sister-in-law had us over for dinner. Cynthia is a really good cook and the spread she so effortlessly prepared was delicious.  She baked some butternut squash and stuffed it with a rice and sauteed vegetable mixture. In my adaptation, I changed up the vegetable ingredients just a little bit. I couldn’t help add in  some mushrooms and spinach (since they are in season) for a nutritional boost. I made this during my mom’s visit and she loved it.  My dad is diabetic so she was so excited to bring home a delicious and hearty new recipe for her repertoire. 

2 tblsp grapeseed oil
1 leek, diced
1/2 onion, minced
2 carrots, small diced
1 8 oz package organic cremini mushrooms, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few turns of freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 small garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups cooked brown rice
2 long, slender butternut squashes
1 bunch organic spinach, stems removed and washed

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut both butternut squashes at the end of the slender part – just before the bulb. Then cut it lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds out of the bulb and discard.
  3. Prepare a deep baking dish with about an inch of water. Place the squash flesh side down – so that it is submerged. Bake for about 45 minutes – or until the squash is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare a large saucepan on medium heat with the oil. Add the leek, carrots, and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook another 4-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and spinach. Saute for 1 minute. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes so the spinach wilts slightly.
  5. Place the cooked rice in a glass bowl. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Set aside.
  6. Remove the squash from the oven. Leave the oven on. Drain and discard the water out of the baking dish.  Using some tongs because it is still hot, flip the squash over exposing the flesh.  Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the the rice mixture into the squash cavity. You can firm it down a little bit. (I used 2 ice cream scoops worth of rice mixture per squash cavity).
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. The top will become slightly crispy and brown. Serves 4.  (You may have left over rice mixture).
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