Saturday, December 10, 2011

Squash Stuffed with Couscous and Feta

Fall and winter bring lovely little squashes into the market. Most popular are orange-skinned ones with orange flesh, but there are green ones with yellow flesh too. I love them both, and in the past week have used them both. Their small size makes them perfect as a meal for two, especially when stuffed.  And when stuffed whole, there is a definite wow factor when they are brought to the table.

You can stuff them with anything—rice, bulgar, bread, vegetables, a bit of cheese. My choice this week was a couscous pilaf, flavoured with mushrooms and sage, with some feta cheese. It's a keeper.

Feta and Couscous Stuffed Squash

2 servings

This makes a stuffed squash with extra couscous pilaf to serve on the side. It is easy to prepare this dish ahead of time and then finish baking it just before serving.

1 small globe squash
1/2 cup couscous
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 leaves sage, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
1/2 sweet red or yellow pepper
150 grams mushrooms
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
50 grams feta cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Cut the top off the squash, and a small slice off the bottom so that it sits straight.
  3. Cut a hole in the top and scoop out all the seeds, then rub the insides with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Bake the squash (including its top) for 30-40 minutes until the flesh is cooked but the squash still retains it shape. This can be done a day in advance (in which case, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in a cool place).
  5. Place the couscous in a bowl, pour boiling water over it, and cover with a lid or plate. Let sit for 15 minutes, then uncover and fluff it with a fork.
  6. While the couscous cooks, mince the onion, celery, pepper, mushrooms , and garlic. Because couscous is so fine, I like to chop the vegetables in a very small dice.
  7. In a large frying pan, fry the sage leaves in the olive oil for a few minutes until they turn crisp. Remove and reserve the leaves. (You can skip this step if you are using dried sage.)
  8. Add the onions and celery to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the onions are softened and translucent. Then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes, finishing with the red pepper. Crumble in the fried sage (or the dried sage), and add the thyme. Keep sautéing and stirring until the vegetables are cooked through. 
  9. In a bowl or in the frying pan,  mix the couscous and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. 
  10. Using a small spoon, fill the squash with the couscous pilaf, firming it into the bottom and sides. Leave the center free, and push the feta cheese into it. If there's still some room, pack in some more pilaf. You will have pilaf left over, but you can reheat this an serve it as a side dish, perhaps with some extra feta cheese crumble over it.
  11. Bake the stuffed squash in a medium oven for another 30-40 minutes. (If you prepared it in advance with chilled ingredients, you will probably need to cook it for 45 minutes or so).
  12. Serve with a steamed green vegetable (green beans, broccoli, or, spinach), roasted tomatoes, and the rest of the pilaf. 

It looks so cute with its little caps on

Made with orange squash, it tasted even better.
Couscous pilaf is also great on its own as a side, or with some feta cheese

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