Grains and Greens-Stuffed Squash with Herb Salsa

A vegetarian main dish of hearty ancient grains and nutritious winter greens; a recipe designed to minimize food waste and maximize the use of leftovers.

We tend to need a boost of vitamins in the darker months, so that’s when hearty ancient grains and nutritious winter greens come to play on the plate.

I’m obsessed with the bolder flavours of winter: earthy squash, bitter greens and tart apples. Today’s recipe uses all of these ingredients in a nearly vegan (hold the dollop of yogourt) main dish that is as beautiful as it is nourishing.

Zero Waste Cooking

I’m renewing my commitment to a zero-waste kitchen in 2020, and this recipe is a perfect example of zero waste cooking.

Food waste is the single biggest problem in our current food system. Around 30% of what we buy will either spoil or get tossed, so why not keep things interesting and cook with those scraps?

Grains and Greens-Stuffed Squash with Herb Salsa is designed to minimize food waste and maximize leftover usage, so throw open the door of the refrigerator and get in there up to your elbows.

You can toss in most any hearty grain and winter green interchangeably, so now is your chance to use up that half a cup of cooked farro, brown rice, quinoa, millet or bulgur.

You can cook all those grains in advance and freeze them (How to Freeze Grains). So next time, cook a little extra and freeze in 1-cup portions to make this recipe over and over again. Spring is still a long way off, my friends.

Additionally, substitute any winter squash variety you like for this dish, and be they Acorn or Delicata, you can enjoy the skin as well – less waste!

As a garnish for this roast squash, I’ve turned wilting herbs and their leftover stems into a vibrant salsa topping, punched up with a good hit of vinegar and seasoned with a hit of paprika.

You can make the herb salsa ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. It’s also SO delicious on roast vegetables, quiche and frittatas, and stirred into winter soups and stews.

Incorporating leftover food scraps into your meals begins one dish at a time, one home cook at a time, so let this recipe to inspire your journey to zero waste cooking.

Grains and Greens-Stuffed Squash with Herb Salsa

Hearty ancient grains and nutritious winter greens come to play in this recipe which is designed to minimize food waste and maximize leftover usage.
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Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegetarian
Essential Ingredient: Butternut Squash
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 530kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil divided
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped soft herb stems and leaves mix of any parsley, oregano, mint, dill,
    tarragon, cilantro, thyme
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 cup cooked grains farro, brown rice, quinoa, millet, bulgur or other
  • 1 cup shredded winter greens kale and stems, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, fennel, beet stems, etc
  • 1 small Russet apple could also use pears, dried cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt full-fat

Instructions

Step 1 – Roast the Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half from bottom to top (I find it’s easier to start at the base where the seeds are). Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
  • Place the squash in a roasting tin or tray. Make a few crisscross cuts in the top third of the squash; this helps it to cook faster. Brush all over with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast for about 1 hour, or until the squash is tender when pricked with a fork. Time will vary depending on the size of the squash. While the squash is roasting, prepare Steps 2-4.

Step 2 – Toast the seeds

  • Using your hands, pinch away the squash seeds from the pulp – you can save the pulp for smoothies. Soak the seeds for 10 minutes in warm water, then drain well. Pat dry with a tea towel. Toss the seeds with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray and roast alongside the squash for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Remove and cool.

Step 3 – Mix the Salsa

  • In a small bowl or jar, mix together the finely chopped herbs, red wine vinegar, minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil. Season generously to taste with salt and pepper, finishing with the smoked paprika.

Step 4 – Prep the Stuffing

  • In a medium bowl, combine whole grains, shredded greens and diced apple. Toss in a tablespoon of the herb salsa, a tablespoon of olive oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well. When roasted squash is tender, remove from oven and brush with maple syrup. Pack a 1-cup measuring cup with the grains & greens stuffing, then invert it into the butternut squash seed cavity, filling both to heaping. Return squash to the oven and roast for a final 30 minutes.

To Serve

  • Drizzle the herb salsa generously all over the roasted stuffed squash. Sprinkle with toasted seeds and finish with a dusting of flaky sea salt. Serve with a bowl of Greek-style yogurt (sour cream, crumbled goat cheese or feta are also delicious toppings).

Nutrition

Serving: 50g | Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 42mg | Potassium: 963mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 22696IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 3mg
About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. This looks fantastic! Just curious, I’m always looking for ways to speed things up, I wonder if you could do the squash in the Instant Pot, then fill, and finish in the oven? Might change the texture I guess….. I’ll try it your way first! Thanks for another great recipe 🙂

  2. Would this amount of filling go into four acorn squash?

    Also, do you have an indoor winter herb garden? If so, I’d love to see/hear. Sage is the only thing that seems to still grow outdoors here (Boston) and it seems expensive/wasteful to buy other herbs in the winter. I never seem to come up with enough other uses to use them all up.

    • Hey Lydia,

      I’d say this filling would work well for 2 acorn squash, split. So four halves, yes.

      I do buy sage occasionally, and keep it in water. It pairs so well with winter vegetables and meals….

      I don’t have much of an indoor herb garden yet. My kitchen gets very little light. But I will go ad dig out thyme from under the snow. It’s almost as good as in summer!

  3. love this, hadn’t seen anything like this before, or even remember seeing stuffed squash, thank you

  4. I made this for supper, it was delicious! Hubby in trying to help chucked out seeds so I toasted some almonds, worked well. I did sprinkle with feta, plus used some plain yoghurt. I also piled it on top of the length as my squash were small. It was wonderful.

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