roasted & stuffed winter squash

somewhat unintentionally, i have ten whole days off from work. i suppose i could be stressing out about this, since there is no 'vacation pay' when you are self employed. but instead, i'm not going to complain about a little break in work. i have friends to catch up with, gigs to play, yoga workshops to attend, recipes to test and even a last minute 4 day trip to orcas island with my band for thanksgiving! i happily accept unpaid vacation time. 

yesterday, i spent a good portion of my day developing recipes ... and um, eating. it was a hoot! i came up with several fun holiday inspired side dishes to share with you all. this recipe in particular, is a new seasonal favorite and would be perfect alongside your turkey on thursday. so simple, delicious, and beautiful presentation. you will love it! 

roasted & stuffed winter squash ~ serves 3-4
1 pound small delicata or sweet dumpling squash
1 cup sliced onions or shallot
1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, halved & thinly sliced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1+ tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
3-4 oz smoked firm mozzarella cheese 
salt & pepper

notes: i love small delicata squash for this recipe since you can eat the skins. they make for adorable little stuffed boats. however, yesterday my local coop was out of delicata so i picked up a little sweet dumpling squash, which have inedible skins but are great for presentation. squash have various sizes of cavities, so you might aim for extra vegetables to make sure you have enough to fill your squash. if you have extra sautéed veggies you can throw them into a scramble for breakfast! lastly, i used my favorite firm smoked mozzarella cheese i find at whole foods. if you can't find it, you could use a smoked gouda cheese. this recipe is great for making ahead of time.

preheat oven to 425. 

for delicata squash - place on a cutting board and notice which side it sits more balanced. turn it 90 degrees, hold it firmly to keep it on it's unbalanced side and carefully cut it in half lengthwise. this way, your two halves will sit flat in the roasting pan without dumping out the stuffing. use a sharp spoon to scrape out seeds and stringy flesh. drizzle a quarter teaspoon or so of olive oil inside each cut squash and use your hands to evenly coat the flesh. 

for dumpling squash - carefully trim off the top inch of the squash. use a sharp spoon to scrape out seeds and stringy flesh. drizzle a quarter teaspoon or so of olive oil inside each cut squash and use your hands to evenly coat the flesh. coat the fleshy part of the tops as well. 

place squash cut side down, including the dumpling squash tops, onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. roast for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is just fork tender and the edges in contact with the baking sheet start to brown. remove from oven and let cool. 

while squash bakes, prepare the stuffing. thinly slice onions/shallot and mushrooms. wash and dry the kale and slice it into thin ribbons. drain sun dried tomatoes from oil and chop into strips. 

heat a tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan. sauté onions over medium heat until translucent (5-10 minutes). add mushroom and a splash more oil if the pan seems too dry and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. add kale and sun dried tomatoes and cook until kale is wilted. salt and pepper to taste and remove mixture from heat and let cool. finally, shred the cheese and set to the side. 

to assemble, fill each squash to the brim with the vegetable mixture. top with a tablespoon or two of grated cheese. place each squash back on your parchment-lined baking sheet and return to preheated oven (or store assembled squash in the fridge up to two days before baking to serve) bake at 425 until squash are steamy hot and cheese is fully melted. serve warm alongside the roasted dumpling squash tops. or, if you want to get extra fancy, make some smoked mozzarella frico (aka cheese crisps): sprinkle tablespoon-sized piles of mozzarella onto your lined baking sheet and bake until the edges are dark brown but the centers are still light in color. let cool on the baking sheet and then gently lift them off and plate frico with each squash.