Sometimes I get the strangest ideas.
And sometimes, they work out really, really well, like these Israeli Couscous Stuffed Butternut Squash Bowls.
Now, this is hardly a new idea. Humans have been stuffing one food into another for thousands of years – the Middle East has a long tradition of stuffing rice mixtures into peppers and squashes or rolling them into grape leaves for dolmas.
Clearly, this is not a ground breaking idea, but as they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….”
So, with the holidays bearing down on us, I’ve been thinking about…. well what else? Holiday food!!! And I think these Israeli Couscous Stuffed Butternut Squash Bowls qualify as being “holiday worthy” – they’re colorful, easy to serve and can be made ahead… and you could stuff them with just about anything – a stew, a mix of roasted vegetables, a rice pilaf…. the possibilities really are endless!!!
Channeling my inner Yotam Ottolenghi, I roasted the squash and then stuffed them with a combination of spiced israeli couscous, dried cherries, spinach and pistachios. Good enough to eat the extras for lunch the next day.. which I happily did, by the way.
Now, for the really important question. What wine should I serve to go with these?
I served them with a Hess Select 2013 Chardonnay – which was an excellent choice. This chardonnay has a lovely balance of acidity and fruit and is very versatile. Whether you’re serving something something tangy, like a salad, these Israeli Stuffed Butternut Squash Bowls or something creamier the Hess Select 2013 Chardonnay works beautifully. This wine is a wonderful choice for any occasion, but especially for the holidays when the mix of dishes served at a gathering really runs the gamut – no more worrying about whether or not you got the right wine/food pairing!
I was provided with Hess Select wines for this post. As always, all opinions are mine alone.
These middle eastern inspired Israeli Couscous Stuffed Butternut Squash Bowls are an easy, ideal holiday and fall make ahead vegetarian entree.
- 4 butternut squash
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 2 cups Israeli couscous
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup shallots sliced
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach stemmed
- 1 Tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup shelled toasted pistachios
- Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.
- Peel the butternut squash and cut the butternut squash just above where the squash begins to flare out.
- Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp as you would with a pumpkin.
- Using a pastry brush, brush 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil inside the squash and over the outside.
- Roast the squash in the 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is just fork tender but not mushy!
- Remove the squash from the oven and cool.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- To make the couscous filling.
- Place the dried cherries in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the couscous and stir for 5 minutes to toast the couscous.
- Add the garam masala and cook for another minute.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 -15 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed and the couscous is all dente - tender but still firm.
- In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes or until the shallots are tender and lightly browned. Add the spinach and cook for another 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
- Drain the cherries and add them to the spinach mixture.
- Add the couscous and stir to combine.
- Add the pepper and sherry vinegar and stir to combine.
- If serving right away, add the pistachios and stir.
- Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed/desired.
- Fill each butternut squash with the couscous mixture.
- Place on the foil lined sheet pan and re heat in a 375 degree oven until the squash is heated through. Serve.
- If making ahead: Complete through adding the sherry vinegar and pepper. Refrigerate the bowls and couscous. Let come to room temperature before reheating and stir in the pistachios just before filling the bowls. Re heat filled bowls in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes until heated through.