Serves 12 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 2½- to 3-pound kabocha squash
  • 4 tbs organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs organic grass-fed butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
  • ¼ cup fresh sage, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tbs minced fresh thyme
  • ¾ tsp Himalayan salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fine- to medium-ground cornmeal
  • 3 cups low-sodium bone broth or vegetable broth if vegetarian
  • 1 ½ cup grated aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Using a small sharp knife and working at a slight angle, cut a 3-inch circle off the top of each squash and scoop out seeds.
  3. Rub the flesh and skin of each squash with 1 tbs organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle garlic inside.
  4. Roast squash in a baking pan until flesh is tender but the sides are not yet caving in (30 to 40 minutes).
  5. While the squash is in the oven, heat butter and the remaining 2 tbs oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, ¼ cup sage and thyme; stir often until onions are just starting to brown (5 to 7 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add cornmeal into the mixture, then whisk in broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, whisking frequently, until the cornmeal is tender (10 to 15 minutes).
  7. When cool enough to handle, scrape about 1 cup of flesh out of each squash, leaving a layer in the shell so it retains its shape. Mash the scooped out flesh into a coarse puree (using a wooden spoon or mortar and pestle) and add to the polenta (the cooked cornmeal mixture).
  8. Stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano.
  9. Spoon mixture into hollowed squash shells.
  10. Bake the stuffed squash until the cheese is melted and the polenta is steaming hot, about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with sage, if desired.

Notes

Sage has an earthy aroma that evokes comforting feelings during cooler weather. Kabocha squash is a winter variety of squash, and is an excellent source of vitamins A (beta-carotene is great for white blood cell health) and C (antioxidant power), fiber (digestive and mental health), zinc (good for male prostate) and low in carbohydrates. Polenta is what I call “Italian grits,” or cornmeal instead of hominy. Chews Your Health recommends pairing grits or polenta with a healthy fat, like olive oil or grass-fed butter and protein (bone broth) since corn is high glycemic for better metabolization in the body. Garlic, sage, and thyme are wonderful herbs with anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Enjoy this side dish alongside a lean protein, like baked chicken, on a cold evening. Bon apetit!

Adapted from: Lia Huber, EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2015