A cross between a butternut squash and pumpkin, this little stuffed butterkin squash is sure to be a kid favorite!
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Fall hikes and meal routines
We’re getting into the season of layers here in Michigan! We start out in hoodies and by the end of the hike the kids have peeled off all the layers to enjoy the golden warmth of the fall sun! We have a Sunday routine of hiking every weekend, and in the fall that routine also includes a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner. One of my favorite things to do with the leftover chicken is make an easy filling for a stuffed squash, and this week, we make it very weekday friendly – meaning super simple! So I thought you might like to see how to do it!
Stuffed squash basics!
While a stuffed squash looks fancy, I promise you this is a busy mom’s dream dinner. Comforting and satisfying without the fuss and time of usual comfort dinners, makes for the perfect weekday meal. Really, a stuffed squash is just a roasted squash filled with a protein/veggie stir fry, and topped with cheese or crispy topping. Its dinner all in one, hitting all of the protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs for growing kids. Win-win! You can truly use any squash, and once you try it, you’ll see why there are 3 other stuffed squash recipes on my blog, and one in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings!
Ok, sounds good! But what in the world is a butterkin squash?!
We discovered these cutie little squashes a couple years ago, and it has become a family favorite. The butterkin squash is a cross-breed of butternut squash, and pumpkin – get it? Butter-kin! In my taste palate opinion, while it has more of the shape of a pumpkin, it tastes more like a butternut squash – buttery smooth, and sweet. It has a really kid-friendly texture and honey sweet taste. If you don’t have access to a butterkin squash, you can make this stuffed squash with a butternut squash, pumpkin, or acorn squash – all equally delicious!
The Method :: Roasting the butterkin squash
I promise the cutting part is not intimidating, so long as you have a proper knife! I will also promise you that while it is much faster to just plop any squash in the Instant Pot to pressure cook away, the flavor and texture that you will get from properly roasting a squash is second to none – the kids are going to inhale this! Using a sharp knife, slice around the width of the butterkin squash, so that you have the top and bottom, equal transverse halves. Scoop the seeds out, and put them into an oven safe baking dish or cast iron skillet. You can have the kids spread the butter all over the flesh of the squash, and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. You’ll roast the squash for 50 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make the filling – in fact you will probably have time to clean up and do other things as well!
The Method :: The stuffed squash filling
The sky is the limit here! This week called for the simplest of the simple. I just needed basic. Some weeks I like to get fancy with more veggie variety, but I just didn’t have it in me this week, and truthfully those kind of dinners are sometimes the best. I had a lot of spinach to use up, and mushrooms just jive so well with that, so I went with it. Use whatever you have in your veggie bin – this filling is a great way to use up leftover veggies from the week and clear the fridge out. You’ll cook the veggies in butter until fragrant and golden, and then add the chicken, garlic, and spinach. This filling really only takes 15 minutes to cook, and it can be done ahead of time too! I like to use a few splashes of broth for flavor and moisture since leftover chicken can be dry. The result of the broth cooked down with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic leaves a very flavorful filling for your sweet squash!
The Method :: Stuffing the squash, and finishing the topping
Once your filling is cooked, and the squash is done roasting, all you have to do is load up the squash with the filling – don’t be shy! Pack it in! And then you can sprinkle the topping on. Again, on this day I needed simple. I used the Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs mixed with freshly grated parm, and called it good. You can do all cheese if you want, or there are some notes in the recipe card for a topping idea that is both grain and dairy free if you need that. Once you sprinkle your topping, get it up under your oven broiler for a few minutes, and you’re ready to eat!
If there happens to be any leftovers (a rarity in my house these days!), they truly make *THE* best breakfast the next day topped with a fried egg. Seriously heaven. It could also make a great leftover lunch too. If you think far enough ahead, you could technically roast off 2 full squashes and double the filling if you want more leftover (or have a bigger family!)
Stuffed Butterkin Squash
- 1 medium butterkin squash cut in half across the width, seeds scooped out
- 2 tbsp butter divided
- Sea salt/pepper to taste
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 ounces mushrooms sliced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2-3 cups leftover cooked chicken shredded or finely chopped (you could also brown up ½ pound of chicken beforehand)
- 3-4 cups baby spinach or baby kale chopped small
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2-4 tbsp bone broth stock, or water for cooking in
- ¼ cup GF Panko bread crumbs see notes below for grain free option
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese see Notes below for dairy free option
- Sea salt/pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the halved butterkin squashes flesh side up in a baking dish, and spread 1 tbsp of butter over the flesh of the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash roasts, you can make the filling.
- To make the filling, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until fragrant and golden.
- Add the garlic and the chicken, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the spinach, thyme, and splashes of bone broth and cook until the spinach wilts and the broth cooks off – this takes a few minutes.
- When the squashes are done roasting, turn the oven off, and take the baking dish with the squash out. Scoop the chicken/spinach skillet mixture into each half of the butterkin squash, patting the filling down into the middle.
- Whisk the GF Panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and sprinkle over each squash half.
- Put the stuffed squashes under the oven broiler on “HI” for 3-5 minutes watching carefully for a beautiful golden color. Every oven broiler can run differently so take a peek after a couple minutes in case yours runs hotter.
- I like to use leftover chicken from my weekly roasted whole chicken. It makes meals like this so fast and cost effective to stretch that one roasted chicken dinner into 2!
- If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up about ½ pound of chicken or beef.
- If you are dairy free and/or grain free, you can swap the gluten free panko crumbs for 3 tbsp almond flour mixed with 1-2 tsp olive oil.
- This is such a simple veggie mixture for this stuffing. If you have different veggies on hand, go ahead and swap! Stuffed squashes are a great way to empty the leftover veggies in the fridge from the week.