Recipes: Squash Your Hunger

Barley Pilaf Stuffed Squash
recipe by Tara Mataraza Desmond
(serves four)

Barley is a common ingredient in hearty dishes like soup, stew and stuffing. Here, the grain is the base of a pilaf-like filling for soft roasted butternut squash. The minimal amount of sweet Italian sausage marries beautifully with fragrant sage and chewy tart cranberries, but if you’re going veggie, just omit it. Woodsy porcini mushrooms are meaty enough to carry the dish. Depending on size, each squash can be an individual serving, or two large halves can be stuffed and divided.

  • 2     small butternut squash, or 1 large squash, halved, seeds scooped out
  • 1     tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼     cup (about ½ ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3     cups hot water
  • 1     cup barley
  • 4     oz sweet Italian sausage (or your favorite flavor)
  • 2     cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1     small shallot, minced
  • 1     tbsp. chopped fresh sage  (about 4 large leaves)
  • ¼     cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2     tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ½     cup toasted pecans, chopped
  •     kosher salt
  •     freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To prepare the squash, rub the insides with the tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper, and transfer to a large roasting pan that will fit all the pieces without crowding. Roast in the oven, cut side down, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the squash is fork-tender.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, let the mushrooms steep in the hot water in a medium saucepan for about 15 minutes. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms, chop and set aside. Bring the soaking water to a boil, add the barley and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the barley is cooked through.
  4. While the barley cooks, add the two teaspoons of oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cut and remove the sausage casings and crumble the meat into the pan. Cook the sausage until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, shallot, sage, cranberries and reserved mushrooms, and cook for another two minutes.
  5. Drain the barley through a mesh strainer and add to the sausage pan. Add the vinegar and stir to combine thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until the squash is ready.
  6. When the squash is done, remove from the oven and stuff the craters with the hot barley mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve.


Reprinted from Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. Copyright © 2009.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, Inc.


Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
recipe by Dynise Balcavage, urbanvegan.net
(serves 8-10)

What’s Thanksgiving without a pumpkin-based dessert? This rich, subtly spiced cheesecake is egg- and dairy-free, but no one will know it.

Crust:

  • 2 cups vegan gingersnaps, or molasses, vanilla or chocolate cookies, lightly crumbled
  • 4 tbsp. non-dairy butter substitute
  • 4 tbsp. sugar

Cheesecake:

  • 2 8 oz. containers of vegan cream cheese
  • 1 12 oz. aseptic container of silken, extra firm tofu (do not use refrigerated tofu, the texture is too grainy for cheesecake)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brandy (optional)
  • 1 15 oz. can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, mix crust ingredients. Press into lightly oiled 9-inch spring form pan.
  3. Mix cream cheese, tofu, vanilla, flour, one cup of sugar and brandy, if using, in the food processor until very smooth. (In this stage, there’s no such thing as overmixing.) Pour half of the batter into a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. To the batter that remains in the food processor, add pumpkin puree, ¼ cup sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt. Again, blend until very smooth.
  5. Pour pumpkin batter on top of crust. Gently pour white batter on top, and using a butter knife, gently work up the pumpkin batter into the white batter to create swirls. Be careful not to pull up the crust as you do this. Don’t overmix.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate overnight. Slide a knife around the cake before removing the spring form from the pan base.