Recently, while shopping at the Co-op, 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 too sweet for me, so using that recipe as a base, I riffed my own version of a stuffing.
First, I sautéed chopped onions and apples in some olive oil, adding some minced garlic and dried thyme once the first ingredients began to break down. Once 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, then topped with more Parmesan cheese, as, well, I didn't have any Swiss. If you wanted to get more decadent, you could add more breadcrumbs to the top along with the cheese, and dot everything with butter before sending it off to the oven. Even if you go that route, you'll still have a pretty virtuous, complete, vegetarian meal:
Baked Stuffed Delicata Squash
2 medium to large Delicata squashes, halved and seeds removed
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 c. raisins
1 bunch of kale, rinsed, thick stems removed, and shredded
About 1 c. cottage cheese, any style
About 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
About 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly season the squash with salt and pepper, then bake for about 25 minutes or until flesh is slightly tender. (Make sure the squash halves sit flat on the baking pan. If they don't, use a vegetable peeler to trim a strip or two away from the bottom.)
2. Prepare the stuffing: in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat about 3 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the apples and onions; a few minutes later, stir in the garlic, raisins and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the shredded kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is mostly wilted, about 5 - 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow mixture to cool slightly.
4. Add cottage cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Remove squash from oven and divide filling evenly among 4 halves. (If you have any leftover stuffing, bake it in a greased dish alongside.) Top squash with more Parmesan, or, if you prefer, Parmesan + breadcrumbs and some dots of butter.
5. Return to oven and bake until squash is tender and stuffing is nicely browned, about 25 more minutes. I served the squash with a brown rice pilaf and a beet salad.