Ok so this is a little late, but I'm, hoping this helps all of you who like me are in the full midst of Christmas chaos. Christmas really snuck up on me this year, no sooner had it been my birthday we were basically at Christmas and right now we are under a week away and I'm so under-prepared. At least I have checked one thing of my list; what I'm going to eat. I had been thinking about a nut roast for a while, but I often find them to be dry and kinda boring. When I originally conceived of this recipe I envisioned a loaf, similar to a nut roast, and to be honest that totally worked. But I found it a bit lacking in style so I decided to omit the butternut squash from the mixture and instead stuff the squash with the remaining ingredients. It was add this point that I made the addition of cranberries. However I would say if like me you are diabetic and you want a low sugar recipe leave the cranberries out. Cranberries can be quite sour so to balance this out I had to add a natural sweetener, I used maple syrup but you can use agave, date or any other fruit syrup you may have. Of course this is going to increase the amount of sugar in this recipe big time, and so if you're not up for that just ditch it, the stuffing still tastes great without! I had some of the stuffing mixture left over, as I couldn't quite fit it all in the squash, if you have this too I suggest just making the stuffing into balls and roasting on Christmas day.
The first loaf version of this dish
I paired this recipe with a cranberry sauce. You can totally use the cranberry sauce recipe as a stand alone if you already have the rest of you meal planned. Cranberry sauce is actually really easy to make, as someone who usually just buys a jar on Christmas eve because I have completely forgotten how much I like it, I was pleasantly surprised. I will never be turning back to jar cranberry sauce again.
Butternut squash is the most common of winter squashs, but feel free to use any squash that takes your fancy. Butternut squash has very low calories, 45 to 100g, and no saturated fat or cholesterol but is high in dietary fibre. It also has very high levels of vitamin A, a powerful natural anti-oxidant that is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin. It is also an essential vitamin for healthy eyesight. Yes we can still be healthy at Christmas! Or at the very least we can eat some veggies before we indulge in all the vegan cheese and chocolate.
However you are celebrating Christmas this year (even if you don't celebrate it!), I truly hope you are spending time with those you love! Let me know what plans you have. I am off to Ireland on the 29th until the 4th January, so I maybe a bit absent until then. (I am hoping to squeeze in a new years recipe but I will have to see how I do). So if I don't see you until the new year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I hope all your seasonal dreams come true!
1 butternut squash
For the stuffing
1 red onions
1 can of cannellini beans
150g precooked chestnuts
1/2 cup of cranberries (optional, see above)
5 teaspoons maple syrup/ any natural sweetener such as agave or date syrup (optional, see above)
2 garlic cloves
3 sage leaves
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
For the sauce
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of maple syrup / any natural sweetener such as agave or date syrup
zest of 1/2 an orange
1) Cut the butternut squash into half and remove the seeds and pith from the centre. Place into the oven for 20 minutes on 200'c or until the squash has just started to soften.
2) While the squash is in the oven dice your onion and then place in a pan on a low heat until it has softened.
3) Place the onion into a blender with the rest of the stuffing ingredients except the cranberries, blend until fairly smooth with still some chunks. Once blended stir in the cranberries
4) Remove the squash from the oven and fill the centre with the stuffing mixture.
5) Place the squash back into the oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until soft and starting to brown at 200'c.
6) Meanwhile place your cranberries for the sauce in a pan with the syrup and water. Heat on a medium heat until the cranberries have popped ans softened.
7) Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the orange zest.
8) Assemble with all the rest of your Christmas sides, I'm talking sprouts, roasties, parsnips, turnips, greens the whole SHBANG and enjoy!