Delicata Squash Roasts Stuffed With Mushroom Pecan Pâté

Serves 4.

Note: These stuffed roasts will be the showpiece of the table, and taste as good as they look. Roast them standing up to keep them from collapsing, as you will fill the cavities with tasty mushroom pâté. There is a little bit of miso (a fermented soybean paste) in the filling, which gives the pâté a meaty, umami-rich quality. You can find it in the refrigerated section by the tofu. From Robin Asbell.

• 2 delicata squashes (about 14 to 16 oz. each)

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, chopped

• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped

• 3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped

• 1 1/4 c. pecan halves

• 1 tbsp. red or brown miso

• Salt

• 2 tbsp. butter or vegan margarine

• 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 4 c.)

• 1 tsp. fresh thyme, coarsely chopped

• 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 2 tbsp. dried cranberries

Directions

To prepare the squash: Remove the top rack from the oven to make room for the squash to stand upright. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add 1/4 cup water to a loaf pan or other small, high-sided pan; set aside.

Place each squash on the cutting board and slice off a thin “cap” from the stem end; reserve both pieces (the cap will be used for serving). Using a butter knife, scrape the seeds and pulp out of the squash and discard. Place the squashes, cut side down, in the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a paring knife slides into the side of one easily. Carefully transfer the squash to a cooling rack and cool completely, then refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.

To prepare the filling: Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, then add the onions. Cook, stirring, until the onions start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and soft.

Add the garlic, mushrooms and sage and increase the heat to medium-high. Stir until the mushrooms are sizzling and browning, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mushrooms are shrunken and dark, and the pan is dry, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor bowl and add the pecans, miso and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process, scraping down as needed, until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. This can be done up to 2 days ahead, then refrigerated.

To finish the dish: Hold a squash in one hand, cradling the bottom half to support the walls, and gently stuff the mushroom filling into the opening. Fingers work best; drop portions of filling in the hole and press down with a fingertip, and continue until the squash is filled. Don’t press too hard.

Place the squashes on a baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. If you are working around all the other holiday dishes, warm it up at whatever temperature you are using, just until hot. Warm the reserved squash “caps” on the baking sheet next to the squashes and place them over the ends of the squash at serving.

To prepare the apples: Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and stir to coat, then reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle with thyme, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir to mix. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, until the apples are softened. Add the cranberries and stir until heated through. Keep warm, or cool and refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.

To serve: If the apples were made ahead and refrigerated, reheat them in a sauté pan over medium heat, stirring, or microwave. Spread the apples on a platter and place the squashes on top, sliced, if preferred, with the squash “cap” on the plate. Serve squash hot.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 510 Fat 36 g Sodium 220 mg

Carbohydrates 50 g Saturated fat 7 g Total sugars 20 g

Protein 7 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 12 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 fruit, 1 starch, 1 ½ carb, ½ high-fat protein, 6 fat.