‘Tis the season!
Oh yes, ‘that time of the year’ is finally here! And also yes, I’m absolutely no grinch – I’ve been loving this wonderful time of the year since I’ve been a little child.
There’s simply something magical about the Christmas time, deliciously scents of cinnamon and mulled wine in the air, fairy lights and Christmas markets, cookie crumbs in the kitchen, Christmas classics returning to TV, families get together, kids are super excited for the big day (totally counting myself into that category!), it’s simply a wonderful time in my books.
One of the things that excite me the most about Christmas is the seasonal food – besides wrapping Christmas presents, getting the Christmas spirit into the kitchen is one of my favourite activities in the advent time.
Traditionally the dishes my family used to create around the holidays were anything else than vegan (growing up in a German household after all!), and the challenge to come up with new vegan dishes with a traditional twist, has been something that I’ve been loving over the past few years.
I’ve recently been spotting stuffed butternut squashes all over social media, and it was simply something that I wanted to put my own twist on – so here we are! And what would a festive recipe be without a refreshing drink on the side? I personally think that a bubbly Appletiser is the #perfectpairing with a festive, vegan dish, whether you’re generally trying to avoid booze this Christmas or not. Hey, you could even serve it in some fancy flutes if you wanted to go all out 😉 And in true Appletiser fashion, there’s no added sugar in the roast recipe and with the cranberries and butternut squash it contains 1 of your 5-a-day (just like a refreshing Appletiser!). Just make sure not to drink it all up during the preparations in the kitchen already – I know too well that it’s totally tempting when there’s a fresh bottle waiting in the fridge 😉
So what’s my twist on this stuffed squash? Well, firstly I have created a nut roast style filling for the roast – and therefore combined two of my favourite foods (I simply love a good nut roast and you probably know by now that I’m addicted to anything squash or pumpkin like!). To add the Christmas feel into the dish even more, I have also added a homemade cranberry sauce – the natural sweetness simply compliments the savoury nut roast in a magical way.
With regards to the nuts and seeds used in the recipe, I went with sunflower, linseeds and pine nuts – as the latter are technically also a seed despite the name, it would need to be ‘seed roast’ to be correct, but that name simply doesn’t give justice to the deliciousness of the filling (it just sounds too healthy, and the dish is doing really well with the fruit and veg added to it already ;))
If you’re out of pine nuts, you can simply replace them with chopped walnuts, just ensure to not leave out the chestnut puree as it’s vital for the distinct taste of this roast. I know it’s a little more difficult to get hold off, but lots of supermarkets offer it around the Christmas period, and there’s always Ocado to order it from.
1 medium size butternut squash
Vegan Gravy (store bought or homemade)
For the filling
50g sunflower seeds
50g flaxseeds (or linseeds)
50g pine nuts
100g chestnut puree
50g Vegetable Fat (e.g. Vegetable Suet)
50g-70g almond flour
For the cranberry sauce
100g cranberries (I used frozen ones!)
2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Add all seeds and nuts into a small frying pan and toast them for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Make sure to stir constantly so that they get toasted evenly and don’t burn.
2. Use a blender or food processor to combine the toasted nuts and seeds with the vegetable fat and chestnut puree. Simply pulse until it’s all combined, but don’t blend it too smoothly – we still want some texture in the roast filling after all. (I actually used a stick blender when I mixed mine!)
3. Stir the almond flour into the nut mix until you get a sticky texture and set aside whilst you prepare the cranberry sauce.
4. Add the cranberries to a sauce pan over medium heat and pour in about 30ml water to ease the heating process. Cook the cranberries until they start to steam, then start squashing them with the back of a fork. Stir regularly until the sauce thickens as the liquid evaporates. Add in the maple syrup (if using) and freshly squeezed orange juice and set aside.
5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees , then wash & cut the butternut squash lengthwise in half hollow out the halves – this is where our filling will go.
6. Assemble the roast: Scoop the nut filling into one squash half, piling it up until you run out of mixture. Spoon about half of the cranberry sauce on the top, leaving a little extra for serving later 😉
7. Add the second squash half on the top and use ovenproof ribbon to hold the parts together. I would also recommend poking 2 long toothpicks through the squash to keep it in place – most squashes can get a little slippery/uneven when heating and the picks will help the squash halves stay in place during the roasting process.
8. Place the squash on an oven proof dish and roast in the middle of the oven for about 40-45 minutes – or until the squash is soft and golden. Carefully remove from the oven and slice (use a knife with saw tooth blade, that’ll be easier)
9. Open a bottle of Appletiser and serve immediately with the roast – and don’t forget to pour over the gravy (over the roast, not the drink, that is!)
In friendly collaboration with Appletiser.