|(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff;Food styling/Karoline Boehm Goodnick)|
Serves 6 as a main course
When you fill a pudgy squash with a hearty mushroom-chestnut stuffing, you get all the pomp and circumstance of a golden brown bird - without the meat. Make your vegetarian guests feel welcome with this dish, or use it as a hearty side for carnivores. Choose a round squash with a flat bottom, such as Jarrahdale, kabocha, and buttercup. Ready-made unseasoned bread cubes or homemade croutons form the foundation. Toast fresh cubes in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Add mushrooms, plenty of onions and celery, chestnuts, lots of herbs, eggs, and vegetable stock. Fill the squash, set the top back on, and your presentation might be the hit of the feast.
|1||squash (5 to 7 pounds)|
|Olive oil (for brushing)|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1/2||cup (1 stick) butter|
|2||stalks celery, chopped|
|1||medium onion, chopped|
|8||ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced|
|1||can (14 ounces) chestnuts, chopped|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh sage|
|1/2||bunch fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh thyme|
|5||cups cubed bread|
|2||cups vegetable stock|
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
2. Score a circle 1 1/2 inches around the stem end of the squash. Cut and remove the top; set it aside. Scoop seeds and stringy pulp from the base, brush it inside and out with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set squash bottom and top on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Cook the celery, onion, salt, and pepper, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes more. Add the chestnuts, sage, parsley, thyme. and bread cubes; set aside
4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and stock; stir the liquids into the bread mixture.
5. Press the stuffing into the squash, making a small mound on top. Bake the squash 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender and a knife inserted into the center is hot to the touch when withdrawn.