Stuffed & Roasted Winter Squash

stuffedWinSquash

Serves 6

1 large heirloom pumpkin
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons toasted, ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons paprika/pimentón
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly diced
2 cups chopped fennel
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup ham slivered or diced
1½ cups mozzarella, shredded
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Using a large, sharp knife, slice the top off the squash to create a “lid.” With a big, sturdy spoon (or one with serrated edges), scoop out all the seeds and innards to make a clean cavity. Then scoop out some of the inside flesh of the squash, leaving the walls about ¾-inch thick. Dice this flesh and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the shallots, garlic and leeks, and sauté until translucent and soft. Add fennel seeds, pimentón, chile, salt and pepper and cook a minute or so before adding the remaining vegetables, including the reserved chopped squash. Sauté over moderate heat until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove vegetables from heat and stir in ham and cheeses.

Place the squash shell on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Then carefully spoon vegetable mixture into the cavity. You can fill it all the way up. Set the lid on top and place in the oven. Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes, or until a metal skewer slides in easily through the side of the pumpkin. You want the squash to retain its shape, so don’t bake it until it collapses. Cool slightly, then slice into thick wedges to serve, spooning any spilled filling on top.

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