Stuffed Squash with Healthy “Fried” Rice
Buttercup squash… if the adorable name doesn’t intrigue you, I promise the taste will in this stuffed squash recipe!
Stuffed squash is one of the common recipes we always come across during the fall season, and for good reason! It is so versatile and makes an easy, complete meal while fitting in the palm of your hand. By pairing the high fiber carbohydrates naturally in squash with a protein-rich meat, fish, or vegetarian option such as beans, tofu, and eggs, your stomach will feel satisfied and you can say good-bye to hunger!
While strolling through the local (and very abundant) Boulder Farmer’s Market I was on a mission to find a squash I had never cooked with before. Next to the Butternut, Acorn, and Spaghetti Squash I was already familiar with was this cute little Buttercup squash. The very sweet vendor at the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch booth suggested that it being similar to most squashes would be excellent for stuffing and roasting. So, I did both, I roasted it then stuffed it!
Prevent Food Waste
In this recipe, I used up vegetables I had in my refrigerator to prevent food waste. The leftover carrots, scallions, and frozen edamame, made excellent ingredients for a fried rice. My “fried rice” wasn’t fried at all actually, the only oil I used was mixing in a tablespoon of sesame oil to give it a nice nutty flavor. This stuffing came out as a rice salad and can be a dish on its own. I am not going to lie when I say I ate spoonfuls while cooking. If you prefer a warmer topping to the stuffed squash, feel free to place it back in the oven for 3-5 minutes after scooping.
Instead of tofu, I cooked with dried mushrooms, also from the local farmers market, to bring out its umami (meaty) taste.
What is Umami?
Umami sounds like “yummy” because it means just that! Umami in Japanese means yummy or delicious. Considered to be the fifth taste group, it gives a savory, salty, and meaty taste in foods that are animal and non-animal sources. The amino acid, glutamate contributes to this taste detection. It is found in many meats, seafoods, and fermented foods, such as cheeses, mushrooms (especially dried mushrooms) and soy products. Umami-rich foods are also excellent flavor enhancers in low salt cooking to add that salty taste without the actual salt!
For vegetarians and meat lovers alike, there is a shared desire for the Umami taste. Try substituting umami-rich foods for meat or seafood dishes on Meatless Mondays, I promise you won’t be too disappointed!
Weeknight Meal Prep
Cooking batches of brown rice, quinoa, and other healthy grains or legumes at the start of the week is an excellent way to cut meal prep and cooking time. Who doesn’t want 20-30 minutes extra free time after a long day? Netflix anyone?
I made the brown rice in a rice cooker prior to this recipe. If you are using uncooked rice, cook the rice while the squash roasts to save that extra and much desired free time.
For the veggies, preparing days before can also save you time. This helps make a simple, improvised meal when you have them ready-to go in the refrigerator.
After all of the prepping and roasting, the flavors and textures of this dish are well worth it. So, dig in to this “yummy” and satisfying meal!
- 1 Buttercup Squash, halved and seeds removed
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked (or 2 cups cooked)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup oyster or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup edamama, frozen
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or basil)
- 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (tamari for gluten-free option)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp minced ginger, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash halves on a non-stick or greased baking sheet.
- Roast the squash for 30 minutes (or until soft). While the squash cooks, prepare the rice if using uncooked.
- While the rice and squash cooks, prepare the dressing for the rice stuffing and set aside.
- Once the remaining roasting time is 15 minutes, heat the olive oil in a medium pan or skillet and add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the mushrooms, thyme, and vegetables continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. Lastly add the almonds and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice, mushrooms and vegetables and slowly stir in the dressing and set aside.
- Once the squash is done, remove from the oven and scoop in stuffing. Enjoy!
For more flavor, coconut oil can be substituted for the olive oil when sauteing the mushrooms and vegetables. If you want to make this dish gluten free, use Tamari in place of the soy sauce. I used dried mushrooms, so I made sure to soak them for a half hour before cooking. Feel free to substitute other nuts and veggies, or even meats for protein choices in this recipe. Acorn and butternut squash can also be used in place of Buttercup.