Maple roasted butternut squash stuffed with pecan, thyme and cherry freekeh* sounds good, doesn’t it? And it’s really simple to make too! This is a perfect Halloween or Bonfire Night meal: really warming and hearty with all the autumnal flavours you could want, with the goodness of some lovely wholefoods ingredients to keep you nice and toasty on a cold evening.
I serve this with steamed greens in a ginger miso dressing, and vegan sausages for an extra treat (it would be wrong to have a Bonfire Night meal without sausages, right?).
- For the butternut:
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tsp coconut oil (solid)
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 10g fresh thyme
- For the stuffing:
- 100g freekeh
- 500ml water
- 1 tsp oil
- 250g chestnut mushrooms (dried mushrooms, such as porcini, would also work well)
- 1 red onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 10g fresh thyme
- 20g dried sour cherries
- 30g pecans, chopped into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- To prepare the butternut, use a sharp knife to top and tail it and then cut lengthways down the middle. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits using a spoon. Next, slice a criss-cross pattern across the flesh – this ensures the butternut can soak up all of the lovely coconut oil and maple syrup (and helps it to cook more quickly).
- Drizzle half of the maple syrup onto each half of the butternut and into the scooped-out cavity, followed by the oil (the oil can be melted in advance, or spread on solid). Sprinkle on the cinnamon and thyme leaves.
- Place on a baking tray and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. It may take longer depending on the size of the butternut; just keep an eye on it (and cover with foil if you think it’s at risk of burning). It should turn a lovely caramelised brown, and should be soft, but not mushy.
- While the butternut is cooking, prepare the freekeh. This usually involves simmering it in water for about 15 minutes, but check the instructions on the packet.
- Chop the onion, garlic and mushrooms and heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook on a medium heat with the dried chilli flakes until the onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the thyme leaves, cherries and pecans and give it all a stir, helping the cherries to absorb the lovely flavours. The aroma is amazing! Add the freekeh, stir to combine and remove from the heat.
I hope you enjoy eating this as much as I do!
*pronounced freek-ah, I believe…