Stuffed squash is a dish I can’t help but revisit time and time again. It’s a combination of two of my favorites: squash and one-dish meals. It’s like a casserole all in itself with the squash as the baking vessel. This version is incredibly delicious with the stuffing made of fresh spinach sauteed in onion and garlic, spiral Rotini, creamy ricotta, nutmeg, Parmesan cheese and walnuts. It’s a wonderful array of textures and tastes. And a pasta that can stand up for itself all on its own. The pasta can be baked in a pan instead of in the squash. I would double the recipe.
I thoroughly enjoyed this as my main dish and happily satisfied. Put it to work as a side dish if you have hearty eaters who require meat as part of their meal. Adding cooked hunks of chicken, sausage, or even shrimp would only improve upon it. Sitting down with one of these ‘hearts’ on my plate just makes my day better.
I stuffed an acorn and a butternut. I preferred the acorn, the butternut was drier, denser and didn’t work as well with the filling. I carved out an extra ‘cavity’ in the butternut, because they were so small. The acorn is able to hold more filling.
Pasta and Spinach Stuffed Squash
2 Squash(Acorn works best for this)
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
4 cups Fresh Spinach leaves, rough-chopped
2 cups Pasta, dried,(I used Rotini, whole-wheat)
1/4 cup Pasta Water
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan, divided
Nutmeg, a couple of dashes or grates if using fresh
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs(I used cornflake)
2 tablespoon Butter, plus more to serve
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and clean out seeds. Put them face down in a pan, add 2 inches of water. Bake for 25 minutes.
2. Cooke the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Make sure to set aside 1/4 cup of the pasta water when draining.
3. In the mean time saute the onion and in a large skillet over medium-low heat in a tablespoon of Olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. When the onion is soft and translucent add the garlic, saute until fragrant. Add spinach, put a lid on the pan for three to four minutes. Remove lid and continue to saute the wilted spinach until tender.
4. In a medium bowl beat the egg and mix well with the Ricotta and parsley. Add spinach mixture, pasta, lemon juice, nutmeg, all of the Parmesan but 2 tablespoons, all of the walnuts but 2 tablespoons, and 1/2 of the pasta water. Mixture should be on the thick side, if it seems too thick add in the rest of the reserved pasta water.
5. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, reserved Parmesan, and walnuts. Set aside.
6. Remove squash and let cool off enough to handle. Turn oven down to 375. Turn the squash over right in the pan. Drain the water. Divide the filling equally among the squash. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and add a pat of butter to each top.
7. Bake for 20 minutes.
8. Serve with butter or a drizzle of Olive oil.