Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Stuffed Carnival Squash with Caulilini in Cranberry Coulis
Stuffed carnival squash make a festive holiday starter or main. Here, I’ve filled them with layers of a tasty, herb and garlicy bean purée, alternating with artichoke-spinach mousse. And what can be prettier that a crown of crisp-tender caulilini with some sweet peas sprinkled on for good measure. The squash is plated in a pool of cranberry coulis, so easy to make, which adds a delightful contrast in flavors. This dish is so satisfying and filling, so if you use them as an appetizer, choose very small squash.
Prep time 30 minutes to roast garlic and squash + 40 minutes
Makes 6 medium stuffed squash
½ cup date paste from ¾ cup whole pitted dates, any variety
1 8-ounce bag fresh organic cranberries
6 Carnival squash, tops sliced off, deseeded, roasted
8 to 10 loosely measured cups of caulilini, very lightly steamed
1 cup frozen petite peas, defrosted
3 15-ounce no-sodium cans or packages of white beans like cannellini, great northern, or navy, rinsed and drained
1 bunch parsley leaves and stems, chopped
1 large head garlic, roasted and peeled
1 to 2 green Thai chillies, roughly chopped
1 12-ounce bag frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
3 fistfuls fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or to taste
3 tablespoons shiro (mild, white) miso paste, or to taste
Hint: If you have the time, you can play with heirloom white beans, like French tarbais, Incan zarandaja, Spanish alubia blanca etc., soaking and cooking them yourself to imbue them with added flavor from garlic and fresh herbs.
To make the date paste, place the pitted dates in a small bowl, just cover with water and microwave for 2 minutes. Cool. Purée the dates and soaking water in a blender until smooth.
To make the cranberry coulis, rinse and cook the cranberries in a pot with ½ cup water. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until they begin to pop. Stir in ¼ cup of the date paste and taste, adding enough to balance the natural tartness of the fruit. Pour the sauce through a fine strainer. Reserve the denser fruit for another use. The strained cranberry sauce is our coulis that we’ll use to plate the squash later.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Lay the seeded squash cut side down on a rimless cookie sheet, lined with parchment. Peel the loose, papery skins off the garlic bulb, and place it on the parchment too. Roast for 20 minutes before turning the squash right-side up. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the squash is lightly golden with toasting on its rim and easily pierced with a fork. The garlic will have softened. Cool. Break the garlic into cloves and peel.
Depending on the size of your steamer, you may need to cook in batches. Place the caulilini in a steaming basket and place, covered, over boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, just enough to remove their rawness while leaving them crisp. Plunge in a bath of ice water to halt their cooking and brighten their color. Drain.
Add the drained beans to the bowl of a food processor. Toss in two-thirds of the roasted garlic cloves, the chopped parsley, the nutritional yeast, 1 Thai chili, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the miso paste. Add ½ cup of water. Blend until smooth but fluffy with flecks of parsley throughout. Add a little more water if required to purée. Taste to correct seasonings, adding a chili, more nutritional yeast, miso, or pepper as you like. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the defrosted artichoke hearts, the chopped spinach, the remaining roasted garlic to a high-speed blender. Adding a minimal amount of water to facilitate blending, purée to make a light, smooth purée with a mousse-like texture. Season with a tablespoon of miso, ¼ teaspoon of white pepper, and 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to taste.
Spread about 2 tablespoons of the white bean purée in the base of each squash’s cavity. Top with 2 tablespoons of the artichoke-spinach mousse and continue layering in this manner until they are filled, ending with the bean purée. Artfully “plant” the steamed caulillini into the bean purée and sprinkle a spoonful of peas under the caulilini “branches.” Depending on the size of your plate, pour 1/3 to ½ cup of cranberry coulis on each plate and center the stuffed squash on it. This dish is best served warm on heated plates.
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