Recently, while shopping at the often news-making Brooklyn food co-op that I belong to, I noticed some beautiful-looking Delicata squashes, and decided to grab a couple. Though I had never cooked with them, I knew they were among my mom's favorite vegetables, and that she'd be able to recommend a good recipe. And I was right: when I queried her via email, she responded that she bakes them, stuffed with a mixture of cottage cheese, apples, and raisins, then tops them with Swiss cheese, which creates a browned, gooey crust. I liked her idea, but it sounded a little over-the-top for me, so using that recipe as a base, I riffed my own version of a somewhat subtler stuffing.
First, I sautéed chopped leeks and apples in olive oil, adding some minced garlic, dried thyme and raisins once the first ingredients began to break down. When everything was well-cooked, I took some nice clean kale, shredded it up and added it to the pan, covering it to allow the kale to steam. Once that mixture had cooled slightly, I added the rest of the stuffing ingredients: cottage cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, and grated Parmesan cheese. I portioned this generously between my two halved, par-baked squashes, topped with more Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and dotted everything with butter before sending it off to the oven.
What results is a complex, nutty-tasting filling that holds the sweetness of the apples and raisins in check with the slight bitterness of the kale. The breadcrumbs, cheese and butter on top ensure a crispy brown crust that nicely complements the soft, smooth flesh of the squash. Best of all, this is one of those all-too-rare vegetarian recipes that makes a complete, filling main course.
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About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.