Alternative Christmas Dinner | Stuffed Butternut Squash

Let's admit - when you're a non-meat eater, the prospect of Christmas dinner can be a little less appealing. You don't want to be that 'inconvenience' on the big day and be the cause of extra hassle when everyone's already faffing over timing of the turkey. I thought I would share a satisfying alternative to the big ol' bird that will get even the carnivores tempted: a pesto, quinoa stuffed butternut squash ready to accompany all the dinner extras. I've never been a squash groupy - it can be a just a little 'meh' so I've been determined to make it that little more exciting.

Any excuse to have pesto really (who knew it was so quick and easy to make) - it works well with the squash; a combination of the sweetish veg with the garlic saltiness is a happy one. The quinoa adds extra substance and texture. What I also like about this recipe is that the stuffing can even be made the night before so you're not fighting for hob space - I like to keep it as stress free as possible. 

1 Butternut Squash
1/2 punnet mushrooms
1 small red onion
1/2 cup quinoa

For the pesto:
Handful of basil
1/4 cup of pine nuts or walnuts (I used a mix of both)
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
Glug of oil
Pinch of nutritional yeast (optional)
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

1. Halve the squash and scoop out seeds. Sprinkle with oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 40 mins at 180 degrees.
2. Make the pesto: Add the basil, nuts, garlic, oil and generous seasoning to a food processor and combine until smooth. Add oil until desired consistency. 
3. Sautee the mushrooms and red onion until softened and browned - season if desired.
4. Boil the quinoa for 10 mins until or until water has absorbed - add to the mushroom mix. 
5. Once the squash has cooked through, take out of the oven, scoop out some of its flesh and combine with the mushrooms and quinoa. Then mix in the pesto and stir until everything is coated. 
6. Re-stuff the squash with the now combined mix, sprinkle with extra pine nuts for crunch and bake for a further 10 mins. 

And there you have it - a fully balanced vegan alternative (to get those protein obsessors off your back). It's something a bit different to your average nut roast and still goes great with a few roasties and the almighty gravy. If you're not a fan of squash - just don't mix the stuffing mixture with the squash and just use it as a fancy bowl instead. I think what I'd also recommend is topping with some breadcrumbs for an extra bite. 

Are you a fan of the almighty squash? What are your veggie/vegan alternatives on the big day?


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