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MAIN MEALS

Stuffed Winter Butternut with Rice and Chestnuts

4 People
Hands on: 10 minutes Overall: 55 minutes
Oven Involved

If you’re looking for an easy nutritious show-stopping veggie and vegan Thanksgiving or Christmas showstopper this Stuffed Winter Butternut with Rice and Chestnuts is a must make.

Whilst I’m all for a little indulgence over Christmas I love to still feed my family with good-tasting, nutritious food. These stuffed squashes are super easy to make and can be served as the main meal themselves or as a side on your festive table.

They’re totally customizable so you can replace the dried cranberries with dried apricots, raisins, or sultanas and use any nut you like, though pistachios, cashews, walnut, and almonds pair best in my opinion.

I chose to use brown basmati as it’s better for you than white but feel free to use white if you prefer or red/wild rice (though the cooking times will be slightly different).

If you’re not vegan feel free to add a little crumbled feta or goat’s cheese, it’s delicious with it too, or 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast for vegan.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

INGREDIENTS:

Butternut Squash

2 butternut squash 1kg (halved lengthways and seeds removed)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp thyme leaves

Filling

2 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (60g)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup basmati brown rice, rinsed
2 cups veggie or chicken stock
Salt + pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
1 tin (400g) chickpeas or mixed beans, drained + rinsed
1/2 cup cooked vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped
3 tbsp dried cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots, or sultanas
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, cashews, almonds, or walnuts
A good drizzle of toasted sesame oil, or more olive oil to serve

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 392F / 200C / 180 fan.

Place the squash in a roasting tin, cut sides up, and rub with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.

Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

In a frying pan, toast the nuts on medium heat until golden, about 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the olive oil or butter to a saucepan and fry the onion on medium heat for about 3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic for 1 more minute and the rice for 1 further minute.

Add the stock, seasoning, and spices. Bring to boil then reduce to med / low simmer. Cook covered for about 30 minutes, not stirring the rice, or until all the stock has absorbed and the rice is al dente. Turn off the heat, add chickpeas to the top and leave undisturbed with a lid on for 10 minutes.

Add chestnuts, cranberries, fresh parsley, and a good drizzle of toasted sesame oil or olive oil and toss with a spoon to combine. Season to taste.

Spoon the filling into the butternut and top with chopped nuts.

TOP TIP to get more filling into the pumpkin – carve a little of the flesh out of the head of the pumpkin (and mix with the rice) then stuff. Alternatively serve more of the rice on the side or store it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

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