I love butternut squash everything. Now that we’re more “North” than my husband and I have been in a while, we see it on more menus than when we lived in Florida, especially during this past winter. I always get so much inspiration from the weather and this meal feels like a holiday. It feels like winter, warming, decadent and impressive. The only “work” was getting the squash open in the first place!
You Will Need:
- Butternut Squash (whole)
- Goat Cheese (I did not get the kind that has any herbs – feel free to if you’d like)
- Roasted Red Peppers (sliced, diced or whole)
- A Ball of Twine
- Olive Oil
- Salt, Pepper, Dried Basil
- Spinach Leaves
- Parmesan Cheese
- Rice (your preferred kind however, we use Livia Brand as the rice is lowcarb and keto friendly. You can see more information here: Livia Foods)
First thing you’ll want to do is cut off the top and bottom ends of the squash.
Decide which end will be resting on itself and trim it so it lays flat. Don’t cut too far into the squash; just enough so that it will lay flat when filled.
Then, take your knife and cut down the middle length-wise so that you have two separate pieces, keeping in the mind the portion you just cut to lay on the bottom. Scoop out the inside seeds and pulp.
Score with your knife, the meaty portion of the squash. Drizzle your olive oil and use your salt and pepper (you can always add more seasoning later so don’t be too concerned at this point but do definitely take the time to add some now) and some dried basil. Rest the squash meat-side up on parchment paper in a baking pan or on a baking sheet. Or like I did, in a casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 395 degrees and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until the meat is softened).
While that cooks, prep your filling.
In a bowl, add your cooked rice (LET COOL FIRST – unless it’s Livia or Miracle Rice), chopped roasted red peppers (cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces), dried basil, salt, pepper and some goat cheese (I used half the log for this dish as the leftovers go with everything!). Stir in a separate bowl and set aside.
This will only take a few minutes so, take out your pesto contents and start prepping that.
Fill your food processor with spinach leaves (a couple handfuls or more if more than two fit), two handfuls of pistachios (shelled, of course), two tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, dried basil, just a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle your olive oil (I use about a tablespoon to two tablespoons depending on the consistency I’d like). You will taste and add more of what you like.
This is the creamy vibrant green you’re looking for:
The squash should be all but done now, and when it is, leave it out of the oven until it’s cool enough for you to handle it. (You’ll know it’s done because it’s soft enough for a knife point to penetrate it.)
Start scooping out all the meat you can without going too far down into the boats of squash. We need some base to hold everything; a basic structure to tie up so I’d leave about a quarter inch within the squash itself.
Add that meat into the bowl and stir.
Take your twine and cut three long pieces. Lay them down on a baking sheet (or back in your casserole dish). Lay the squash over the pieces, keeping them adjusted so there’s an equal distance between each string.
Then, take the newly added squash, the rice, the salt, pepper, basil and goat cheese and put it all along inside the squash – within just the squash you had trimmed the underside of so it’ll stay upright without turning over.
Place the other piece of squash overtop.
Tie tightly and securely.
Trim off the excess string.
Place in the oven uncovered at the same temperature and cook for another 15-20 minutes. If when done you’re not yet ready to eat, leave in the oven at 160 degrees so it stays warm.
When you are ready to eat, take your pesto (which you left at room temperature) and place a bed of it on the plate to place the squash over. If you’re presenting the squash to be sliced and served table-side, place pesto lengthwise along a platter and then place the entire squash. In this case, I was plating two pieces per person. This squash can serve three people at that serving size.
In order to cut the squash my husband used his electric knife but you can absolutely cut this with a standard kitchen knife. We left the strings on to help keep everything together while we cut and then removed the strings before plating.
I added some fresh thyme for garnish and you could absolutely add some fresh basil instead. We did not eat the thyme… The flavor didn’t work in our opinion.
The skin of the squash is easily removed while eating and the creamy goat cheese with the sweet peppers and that amazing pesto was so satisfying… The remaining filling we used with salmon and chicken later that week.