With more and more people turning to a plant-based diet, I really wanted to create a vegan Christmas centrepiece or accompaniment for a larger table. I’m not a fan of “plant chicken” or “meat-free pork”, “vegan fakeballs” and all that jazz… For me, a vegan dish shouldn’t be centred on a meat-replacement but a celebration of the fact that meat isn’t a necessity! Surely a plant-based recipe should be focused on exactly that? Plants?!Jump to Recipe
Tips and Tricks
As I was developing an Asian-centric recipe flavour-wise, I’ve utilised the amazing produce available here such as King Oyster mushrooms and Asian herbs. But you can very easily switch out some ingredients to a more ‘Western’ profile – such as fresh tomatoes and Italian basil; stewed fennel and parsley; sweetcorn and paprika. Go nuts! Literally – do include some nuts and seeds as the texture is just great!
The grains too are totally interchangeable – keep it simple with a fried ginger white rice, or go for quinoa, spelt and pearl couscous, or go 100% gluten risk-free, whatever takes your fancy. Have fun with it depending on how much time you have available to you.
Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Baking tray
- Frying pan
- 1 Butternut squash Medium-large.
- 2 cups Cooked grains I use a 50/50% brown rice and barley.
- 1 King Oyster mushroom Substitute: 2 large portabello mushrooms.
- 5 Chestnut mushrooms Or other small brown/button mushrooms, even shimeji work.
- 1 Banana shallot Or 2 small round shallots.
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1/4 cup White wine Chardonnay pairs well with the earthy mushrooms – but whatever you have to hand or want to drink after!
- 1 1/2 tsp Dark soy sauce
- 10 Cashews
- 2 tsp Seeds I use a mix of pepitas/roasted pumpkin, and sunflower seeds.
- Fresh Thai basil and cilantro
- 1 tbsp Honey Or vegan-friendly substitute.
- Szechuan pepper
Christmas Eve / The Day Before your Cook
- Prepare your grains; cool and add a little oil to keep them from clumping together.
Christmas Morning / The Day of your Cook
- Prepare your grains if you haven’t done so (no judgement!).
- Mix together 1 tbsp each of water and honey, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce and a large pinch of Szechuan pepper. Cover and set aside.
- Remove the ‘nipple’ from the top of the squash.
- Standing the squash upright on the base, cut into two halves, lengthwise, by resting a sharp knife on the top across the middle and gently tapping it and carefully cutting right down to the base.
- Scrape out all of the seeds and stringy bits, and make a little extra space towards the top of the squash halves.
- Line a baking tray with foil, brush the skin side with some of the glaze – feel free to dust with a little extra Szechuan pepper if you wish!
- Lay the squash halves flesh-side down, propped up so the flesh isn’t fully lying on the foil.
- Setting aside each element separately, finely chop your garlic and shallots; dice your mushrooms, cashews and chiffonade (finely slice) the herbs.
- Heat some neutral oil in a frying pan over medium heat; add the shallots and cook until beginning to turn translucent. Add the king oyster mushroom, reduce the heat a little and sauté for a couple of minutes (this is a tough mushroom!)
- Add in the white wine and chestnut mushrooms. Reduce the liquid by half (to cook out the alcohol) and add 1/2 tsp soy sauce, the grains and seeds. Mix to combine, fold in the fresh herbs and set aside.
- Preheat oven to180C/360F fan / 200C/390F / Gas Mark 6.
- Bake the squash until you can pierce easily with a fork or toothpick. Check after 45 minutes as you don't want the squash to get mushy. If not quite ready, pop it back in for up to another 15 minutes.
- Once you’re there, remove the baking tray from the oven, turn one half of the squash so that it is skin-side down, like a boat.
- Fill the boat with your grains mixture, heap it in the centre and top it with the second half. At this stage you can wrap the entire squash in foil to keep warm if you're not quite ready to serve – you can warm it this way too.
- Serve whole or sliced into wedges for ease.
We would love to hear what you think of our dish.