While searching for edible bowls to stuff with savory goodness I found a few gems hidden in the autumn produce bin. Carnival squash is so colorful and playful it is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. The meat is gently sweet and similar to butternut, but gets its looks from the acorn side of the family. Carnivals are perfect for roasting and loading with hearty ingredients.
The brown rice based stuffing is filled with golden raisins, mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and blue cheese to create a texturally satisfying bite. The raisins add a hint of sweetness to contradict the wonderfully pungent flavor of crumbled blue.
Stuffed carnivals are a perfect side item for the holidays.
3 carnival squash
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 package baby Portobello mushrooms, coarsely chopped to smaller pieces
3 large cloves garlic, grated
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. fresh sages, finely chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
¼ cup golden raisins
3 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Place the halves on a baking pan, flesh side up. Brush each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Loosely cover the pan with foil. Bake the squash until it is just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
While the squash is roasting prepare the brown rice according to the package directions and set aside.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, raisins, herbs and spinach; season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Stir in the rice ¾ of the blue cheese (save a little for topping).
Pour out any excess liquid from the centers of squash. Divide the stuffing among the squash and top with blue cheese crumbles and parmesan cheese. Put the stuffed squash back in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is finished cooking and the cheese is browned.
Garnish with chopped parsley and devour immediately!