I believe I am not the only one who has somewhat mixed feelings around this Thanksgiving holiday. Gathering with the family for celebration, and yet I am the only one who is not joining others in eating the main dish, and only having side dishes. It is indeed a unique experience which brings different feelings and reflections.
I stand for the inclusiveness. Gathering with people with various dietary choices around one table and eating together with respect and harmony is the world I want to manifest.
So, what can make this holiday meal experience beautiful? To make a special main dish that I will enjoy! And perhaps… others will also become inspired for other ways and possibilities.
Let’s make a special main dish for this day!
What special main dish could I imagine for Thanksgiving? I began to ponder this a few weeks ago, and I came to the idea of roasting a whole kabocha squash while having the stuffing inside of it! “It should be quite delicious!!” And indeed, it was a wonderful idea.
The sweet, rich, creamy, and flavorful roasted kabocha squash embracing the stuffing that I made with my organic whole spelt sourdough bread and some vegetables can make the meal beautifully complete and delicious. And it is so beautiful and fun to open the top of the kabocha squash like a lid, then all the delicious stuffing is inside!!
Stuffing with whole grain bread
I had the image that stuffing has to be made with white bread. Its lightness as well as sponginess definitely goes well as a stuffing so as not to become too dense as well as to absorb the flavor of the broth well. But this year, I wanted to experiment how it goes with the whole spelt sourdough bread that I bake. It was actually quite delicious!! It definitely is different from the usual stuffing, as there is a different fluffy softness in the flavor. And yet, there was a fullness in the flavor and a deeper sense of nourishment. I liked it very much!
Vegan stuffing’s ingredients
You can find various recipes for vegan stuffing online. Like many others do, I love making it with various vegetables such as onion, celery, and carrots, which are in Japanese called “koumi-yasai” (aromatic and flavorful vegetables) that are essential for making vegetable broth. But also, I love adding mushrooms, which bring depth and richness to the flavor. And this year, I also added some fresh spinach to bring a lovely green color.
When you have these varieties of vegetables, aromatic herbs, and delicious broth (homemade veggie broth recipe here), there is nothing else needed to make delicious stuffing!
Stuffing both inside the kabocha and on the side
Since there is limited space to put stuffing inside the kabocha squash, I also made a stuffing in the baking dish to be served on the side. While the stuffing inside the kabocha squash becomes nicely moist like a Knödel (bread dumplings), the stuffing on the side is nicely crunchy and fluffy.
Side dishes for balance and beauty
Vegan gravy is a wonderful addition to experience this dish. I also make it with some mushrooms which creates a beautifully rich, deep, and flavorful gravy that can complement the stuffing so well. Also, the cranberry-apple sauce goes so lovely with the kabocha squash as well as the stuffing. Although whole grains have some protein, having additional protein will certainly make the meal more nutritional and complete. The savory black lentils, for example, could be a wonderful accompaniment to this dish. Its light yet earthy flavor goes well with the comfort food, like this stuffing. And don’t forget to eat some fresh raw vegetables! Here in this picture, you see a very simple green salad to keep the visual simplicity. And yet, I am sure it will be so lovely to add some more colorful vegetables and fruits as well as nuts for a day of special celebration!
Thanksgiving Kabocha Squash Stuffing
- medium size kabocha squash
- For stuffing:
- 350g whole grain sourdough bread
- 1 small size onion
- 1 small size carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 4 brown mushrooms
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage)
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Step 1 Have the sourdough bread cut in cubes and toast it in the 350 °F oven for 20-30 minutes until it becomes crispy. Preheat the oven to 420 °F.
- Step 2 Cut the kabocha squash horizontally and take out the seeds with a large spoon.
- Step 3 Cut the onion, carrot, and celery into small dices, slice mushrooms into small pieces, and mince the garlic.
- Step 4 Heat a pot and pour in the olive oil, then add garlic and and warm the oil with it until the oil is infused with the garlic’s aroma.
- Step 5 Put in the cut onion and sauté at medium high heat until the color becomes half-translucent.
- Step 6 Add mushrooms and sauté until their water content decreases and the color becomes beautifully brown. When they get dry, add salt instead of additional oil.
- Step 7 Once mushrooms are well browned, add celery and sauté together.
- Step 8 Add some fresh or dried herbs of your choice.
- Step 9 Add carrots and sauté all together until the vegetables become tender.
- Step 10 Add the bread cubes and mix them well, then add the vegetable broth.
- Step 11 Stir the ingredients so that all bread cubes will be in contact with the broth.
- Step 12 Put in the fresh spinach and put the lid on for about a minute.
- Step 13 Mix everything well together.
- Step 14 Put the stuffing into the kabocha squash, and put the remaining stuffing on a baking dish.
- Step 15 Bake the kabocha squash for about an hour.
- Step 16 Put the stuffing on the baking dish into the oven for the last 10 minutes. If you want to make only stuffing without the kabocha squash, you can bake it at 350 °F for 20 minutes.
- Step 17 Check with a cake tester if the kabocha squash is thoroughly roasted. If it is nicely tender, it is done!