Stuff it

You have cute, serving-sized winter squash. What do you do? Stuff it.

You want to turn a mound of mashed tofu into something Thanksgiving-esque. What do you do? Stuff it.

A table full of baked squash, tofu un-turkey, mashed red skin potatoes, green beans with garlic butter and toasted walnuts, cranberry sauce, and homemade blueberry crepes sits in front of your face. What do you do?

Stuff it!

Between the spicy polenta-stuffed squash, the stuffing-stuffed tofu, and the stuffed bellies around the table, that was certainly the theme of my Thanksgiving.

It seemed only fitting to create a post stuffed full of photos. Here goes.



The mashed potatoes, stuffing, mushroom gravy, and string beans seem to be stuffed into the back corner, but you get a good view of the polenta-stuffed squashies.

The squashies baring their tangy inner souls

You’ve probably had your fill of photos now.

Ready for a new recipe? How about this:

Picante polenta-stuffed squash
Makes 6-12 servings


3 medium to large winter squash (like butternut) or 6 small ones (like sweet dumpling or acorn)
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups water
Dash of salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños (or hotter pepper like serranos, for more bite), finely diced
About 1 cup cheddar and jack cheese, shredded (optional)

What to do

Preheat oven to 375 F. Pierce the whole squashes with a fork several times. If you have a cleaver or you’re feeling macho, hack open each squash (preferably cutting it right down the middle into 2 identical pieces) and remove the seeds. Place whole squash right side up or squash halves cut side down on an oiled baking tray. Bake for 30-60 minutes or until a fork goes in with a little resistance.

While the squash is cooking, you can prepare the polenta. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté a few minutes more. Set the veggie aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the 4 cups water to a simmer and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Add a dash of salt. Lower heat and continue at a leisurely simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the polenta is thick and smooth, remove from heat and stir in the veggies. Taste and add salt to taste.

Now go back to the squash. If you’re using acorn squash or another smallish, round squash and you’ve baked them whole, at this point you can cut off the tops. They will look like they’re about to become mini jack-o-lanterns. Set the tops aside and do not re-bake them. They’re just for show. If you’re using larger squash, cut them in half.

With whatever kind of squash you’re using, at this point you’ll need to remove the seeds. Also scoop out some of the insides until you have a generous amount of stuffing space.

Stuff each squash up to the top or a little more. Return to the oven to bake at 375 for another 30 minutes or until the squash is good and soft. If using cheese, sprinkle it on top of the squash at this point and bake or broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with the tops on or near the squashies, or cut squash into wedges. Try it with salsa!


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