Have you finalized your Thanksgiving menu yet? We think that along with the turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, at least one squash dish should adorn every Thanksgiving table. Whether prepared in a salad, soup, or as a show-stopping main course, squash is not only a delicious and beautiful addition to your dinner, it is one of nature’s ultimate superfoods, so indulging in it means you are getting a lot of a good thing.
There are so many varieties of squash that you can choose a few varieties without being redundant. Summer squashes like zucchini and crooked neck squash are great sautéed, and are super quick and easy to prepare, adding crunch and texture to the palate and beautiful fall colours of green and gold to your table.
Winter squashes like acorn and butternut make amazing soups, and roasting them brings out the nutty sweetness as the natural sugars caramelize and practically self-glaze. Simply halved or quartered, brushed with butter or olive oil and seasoned, they can be cooked along side the turkey so no extra time or fuss is required.
For many, Thanksgiving dinner starts off with soup, and if there is an easier and more delicious vegan soup than this, made with butternut squash and coconut milk, I don’t know what it would be. We wrote about this soup back in the spring of 2012, but it is so good this time of year, and so appropriate for this holiday we think it needs a reprise!
Quick Butternut Squash Soup (I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan!)
-2 medium onions, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 bay leaf
-1 large butternut squash, cubed (skin on, seeds removed)
-1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
-1 teaspoon almond oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon white pepper
-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Put onions, cubed squash and garlic in heavy saucepan. Add water to cover about 2/3. Bring vegetables to simmer, lower heat and simmer until squash is soft, about ½ an hour. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and blitz with emulsion blender until smooth. Stir in coconut milk, return to low heat. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and cardamom. Stir in almond oil (optional)
Last year I collaborated on a cookbook entirely devoted to squash, and one of the most popular and most requested recipes from that book is for Bacon Wrapped Butternut stuffed with Kale and Blue Cheese. If you leave out the bacon, it is perfect as a main dish for a vegetarian Thanksgiving, combining the power of two of the most nutrition packed foods available, and as a bonus, grown locally; squash and kale. This dish has serious wow-factor, and a platter of two or three or more, depending on the size of the squash and the number of guests, will probably steal the spotlight from the turkey. Have a safe, healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Bacon Wrapped Butternut stuffed with Kale and Blue Cheese
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 slices bacon
1 tablespoon butter
¼ chopped onion
½ clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups trimmed and chopped kale (centre rib removed)
2 slices rye, multigrain or sourdough bread
1 ½ tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the round “bowl” end from the squash. Reserve the “arm” for another use. Peel the squash and discard seeds. Brush squash with oil and season. Place squash inverted on baking sheet; drape the bacon over the squash, crossing at right angles to form an X. Roast for 30 min, basting occasionally with bacon drippings.
Meanwhile, prep the stuffing. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over med high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until softened, about 1 ½ minutes, Stir in the kale and sauté for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toast the bread and cut into ½ inch cubes. Gently stir into kale mixture. Add the blue cheese and toss to combine.
Increase the oven temperature to 500 F. Turn the bacon-wrapped squash cut-side up on the baking sheet and tuck in the dangling ends into the “bowl.” Stuff to overflowing with the kale mixture. Bake for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. To serve, cut between the bacon slices.
This dish can be prepared the day before and simply reheated in the oven before serving.