Friday, January 12, 2007

Butternut Squash With Creamy Tofu, Thyme And Walnut Stuffing

If I were a resolution-making kinda gal, which I'm not, I suppose one that I'd make would be to eat a little less meat.

Now I'm not saying I've made a meatless resolution for 2007, but I have been making a few dishes lately that are sans les viandes. Not by conscious design, mind you. They just came about, in the serendipitous way that food happens in my kitchen, and I didn't miss the meat.

So of course I got to thinking that this might not be a bad thing. You know, go a few nights a week without chicken or fish. (We don't eat much red meat at all, an exception being lamb - post coming soon - so that won't be a sacrifice.)

This particular dish came about because of the tofu. We smug folks up here on the north coast have our very own tofu company, The Tofu Shop, which makes organic tofu daily and distributes it, so far as I can tell, to all our local grocery stores, even Safeway. What lucky people we are.

Did you know that a 3-ounce serving of tofu has a whopping 10 grams of protein? I actually did know that. I used to be a vegetarian back in my hippy days when the cookbook I reached for the most was Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook.

But my point in telling you how much protein is in tofu is that it's a perfect substitute for meat, if you happen to be a low carb person, as I am. I gotta have my protein, but it wouldn't hurt for me to lessen my intake of cholesterol. And tofu is a cholesterol-free food.

Go ahead, visit the Tofu Shop's web site. They have a lot of interesting info on tofu and the other products they make. Don't forget to come on back here for my recipe though.

To cut to the chase, my recent hankering for some tofu resulted in the following dish, which turned out pretty darned tasty to this carnivore.

Butternut Squash with Creamy Tofu, Thyme and Walnut Stuffing
Christine's Original Recipe
1 medium butternut squash
1 14-ounce block firm organic tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
1/2 cup 1/2 & 1/2*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil and Earth Balance** for the pan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the stem end from the squash and discard. Cut the squash in half lengthwise.
Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then cut each piece in half crosswise, leaving the scooped out portion intact.
Place all 4 pieces in a roasting pan, skin side down. Fill the pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with foil and put in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the squash is tender.
You can remove the foil during the last few minutes to let any water left in the pan evaporate.
When cooked, remove the squash from the oven and tent with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in a small amount of olive oil and Earth Balance until they are very soft.
Add the garlic, thyme, cinnamon and cayenne and stir for a few minutes more.
Add the tofu to the pan and gently stir (avoid breaking up the cubes) until it has heated through.
Pour in the vermouth and cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates.
Add the walnuts.
Pour in the 1/2 & 1/2 and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve***, mound spoonfuls of the tofu mixture into each squash cavity, sprinkle with shaved parmesan (optional), surround with a green salad and enjoy.

Cooks Notes:
* You could substitute soy milk for the 1/2 & 1/2, making this vegan-firendly.
** Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread is my new "butter" of choice. It has no saturated fat, is cholesterol free, is easy to cook with and has lots of other attributes that are good for you. Have I given up on butter? No. I just don't use so much of it.
*** I came up with other ideas for the tofu mixture as I was merrily cooking away:
Add sauteed mushrooms to the mix (if only I'd had some)
Mix toasted, seasoned bread crumbs with finely grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the tofu, dot with more Earth Balance and return the whole thing to the oven to melt it deliciously into the mix.
Menu For Hope III:
A reminder to all who participated in the Menu For Hope raffle, Monday, Jan. 15th is the day to check at Chez Pim to see if you won the prize of your dreams!
I'm taking the long weekend off from blogging. Back on Tuesday!


  1. Umm...Christine in the kitchen, butternut squash, walnuts, could we lose!
    Looks excellent!
    Have a great weekend.

  2. I have been thinking of trying butternut squash as everyone keeps talking about it, looks really delicious Christine.

  3. Beautiful!! You have certainly started the year off with a bang, Christine!! So many wonderful recipes!!! And I envy you having a tofu shop near by! Freshly made tofu is the best.

  4. Chris: From us non-meat-eaters: more of these, please! I just love tofu, so am thrilled with this recipe. Perfect for these chilly winter nights! And did I mention I can't wait to try the eggplant one too so I can use the new Braun hand blender I got for Xmas. What a thing of beauty! Love, Your Favorite Niece

  5. This looks beautiful, Christine. I like meatless dishes, but somehow find myself eating more when meat is not included.

    But, oh, this looks lovely.

  6. I was wondering about using halloumi or feta instead of tofu, as it doesn't like me very much, what do you think Christine?

  7. I think this sounds like an excellent turkey sub at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I book marked the recipe and hopefully I will remember next year!

  8. this is beautiful-one of my favoite veggies! Like Mimi, I think I would eat more if the meat was not around.

  9. Hi y'all! Finally arrived home last night and am spending the day catching up.
    Tanna, Sher, Janice, Mimi, Melissa and Jann - thanks for your comments. It was a very, very delicious stuffed squash.
    Anne, I think I would use sauteed mushrooms in place of the tofu then add a cheese of your liking to round it out. I have limited experience with Halloumi, but believe it stays pretty firm when heated. Whatever cheese you use should probably have a nice melt factor to it.

  10. This looks very, very good!

  11. Something else I need to get familiar with - first I have to figure out what it's called here and where to buy it. I have been finding some good-sounding recipes I have one more!

  12. Okay, I'm going to have to try this. My tofu experience is pretty limited to using it to thickening soups...great looking recipe!

  13. This looks tasty! When my wife and I first got together, she was vegetarian. For a long time, though I ate meat occasionally, that's about all I cooked. Now we enjoy meat about once a week, but vegetarian dishes are still a mainstay in our house--and still love those Moosewood books! Some of their newer ones, such as Moosewood cooks at home, are especially good for quick weekday meals.

  14. p.s. please do join us for Leftover Tuesdays this week if you are inclined. Details on Cooking Chat. And happy birthday! David

  15. Some I've never had but would like to try.



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