Twice Baked Butternut Squash

by brookefiore

Back in June I read an article in Good Housekeeping magazine (my favorite beach read) about a woman who started a diary about her dinners. She would chronicle the inspiration for the dish, the ingredients, the preparation, maybe even a memory from that dinner. I loved this idea. Putting a home cooked meal on the table every night can be time consuming and tedious and when your family scarfs the whole thing down in ten minutes you barely feel like you’ve accomplished much. By making a memory book of dinners it allows you to reflect back on the process, and maybe even enjoy the process a little bit more because once the food is gone you still have something tangible from it. In case you haven’t noticed I’ve taken this article as an inspiration to create my own little dinner diary here.

I never used to put much effort into dinner. I felt that I lacked the time and the creativity to produce worthy meals. Time stopped being an issue a few months ago because I began a period in my life where I had a lot of time. Being unemployed, without any studying to do, and without any children I had a whole lot of time to do whatever I wanted in addition to looking for jobs. It took a few days of being bored to determine how I wanted to spend this time. I finally had a clear head and I used this opportunity to open myself up to inspiration.

Take this pile of freshly picked butternut squash for example. In the past I may not have even noticed it. Or maybe I would have stopped and thought gosh, that would make a nice ingredient in some recipe, some recipe that I wouldn’t cook because I didn’t know how or have the time for. But then I started following a rule that I have always liked but didn’t practice often enough. People will make time for the things that they feel are worth making time for. I decided to make the time to plan, cook and chronicle my adventures in the kitchen.

I have never had luck with twice baked potatoes. The recipe always sounds delicious and savory but I’d had bad luck and a lack of patience when it came to scooping out the insides to make the whipped filling to put back into the skins. I picked out three butternut squash and decided I would try to twice bake them instead of potatoes. Another bonus to butternut squash, their bright orange pulp just screams “I’m packed with vitamins and minerals!”

After halving the squash I laid them in a 1/4 inch bath of water to roast away for 45 minutes. The idea of twice baked should have given it away that this would be a bit of a time consuming project and I also failed to account for the time that the squash would have to cool enough to be handled. Dinner may have been pushed back by about a half hour but it was totally worth it.

After the squash spent some time on our deck cooling down I scooped out the inside leaving enough so that the shell didn’t lose its shape. Luckily you only use three of the six halves for the second baking so we had a little wiggle room when I forged a hole in one of the shells. Using a hand held mixer I whipped the squash, nonfat sour cream, chives, paprika, salt and pepper together to spoon it back into three of the shells. The addition of some whole wheat bread crumbs on top made for a bit of a crunch and they went back into the oven for 30 more minutes of baking.

 We paired our squash with some marinated, grilled steak and a salad.

So yes, this meal did take some time to prepare and cook but I enjoyed it the whole way through from inspiration at the farm to finishing every last bite on my plate. I look forward to the day when I am faced with the challenge of working full time and also placing healthy, delicious dinners on the table most nights of the week. I think this time that I have now to practice is certainly a blessing.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

 Serves about 6

 3 butternut squash

1/4 cup plus 1/2 TBSP nonfat sour cream

6 chives, cut into 1/8 inch pieces

2 tsp paprika

2-3 TBSP whole wheat bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F. Halve the squash and place in 1/4 inch of water in a roasting dish. Cover pan with aluminum foil and roast for 35-45 minutes until squash is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and turn temperature down to 425 F. Allow squash to cool enough to be handled.

Scoop out pulp leaving about 1/4 inch in shell so it maintains its shape. Place in large bowl with sour cream, chives, paprika, salt and pepper and mix until smooth with a hand held mixer or potato masher. Spoon filling back into three of the six shell halves and sprinkle with whole wheat bread crumbs. Roast, uncovered, for another 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.