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Recipe for squash stuffed with rice and beef

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Serves 12

Inside the squash is a rice and meat stuffing, seasoned with a Persian spice mix called advieh, an aromatic blend typically made with cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and rose bud flower. Advieh (also known as rice seasoning) is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. Mohammed Fotouhi cooks any leftover filling, squash trimmings, and a little tomato puree in the bottom of the roasting pan; he says guests like scooping it up with pita bread.

SQUASH

Olive oil (for sprinkling)
4medium (2 to 2½ pounds each) acorn, carnival, or kabocha squash (or a
combination), scrubbed
1teaspoon ground
cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste

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1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Oil a large roasting pan and a medium rimmed baking sheet.

2. On a cutting board, lay the squash on their sides and carefully cut about 1 inch off the stem ends to make caps for the squash. Cut a thin sliver off the rounded or pointed bottom of the squash so they can sit upright. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy flesh in each cavity. Use a paring knife to enlarge the opening slightly by cutting off a little of the flesh at the top. Cut the squash trimmings into ½-inch pieces; reserve.

3. Place the squash bowls, open ends up, in the roasting pan. Brush the cut edges and insides with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Turn the squash over, cut sides down. On the baking sheet, place the squash caps, cut sides down. Roast both pans for 30 minutes or until the flesh of the caps is tender when pierced with a skewer. Continue cooking the squash bowls for 10 minutes more or until tender. Turn them right side up.

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4. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

FILLING

Salt and black pepper,
to taste
½cup white basmati rice, rinsed
½cup dried yellow split peas
2tablespoons olive oil
2tablespoons unsalted
butter
1pound lean ground beef
1large onion, chopped
4cloves garlic, finely chopped
2tablespoons tomato paste
2tablespoons advieh
(Persian spice mix)
1tablespoon ground
turmeric
½teaspoon cayenne pepper
1cup chopped fresh parsley
¾cup chopped fresh mint
¼cup chopped fresh
tarragon leaves
5scallions, chopped
1cup tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes or until just tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a bowl.

2. In the same saucepan, add the split peas with water to cover by at least 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander.

3. Meanwhile, in a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add butter. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a kitchen spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste, advieh,
turmeric, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Cook 2 minutes more.

4. Add rice, peas, parsley, mint, tarragon, scallions. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until well blended; cool.

5. Spoon the filling into the squash bowls, not too tightly, mounding it slightly. Place a squash cap on top of each one. In a bowl, combine any remaining filling and squash trimmings with the tomato puree or tomatoes; scatter around the squash.

6. Bake the squash for 55 minutes. Transfer stuffed squash to platter and spoon the pan mixture around them. With serrated knife, cut each squash vertically into thirds or quarters, making sure each contains some filling.
Adapted from Mohammed Fotouhi

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