Have you heard that phrase–anything you can eat, I can eat vegan–? I can’t remember where I saw it. On a t-shirt maybe. Perhaps on someone’s blog or instagram photo. But it really resonated with me because it’s true. There are so many tasty vegan dishes and recipes out there that do an excellent job of replicating non-vegan flavors. So much so, that I wonder why animals are even still used for food.
Take these twice baked butternut squash for example. It’s a beautifully creamy butternut squash topped with a smokey “bacon”. But no cows or pigs were harmed to create it. Cashew cheese was used for the creaminess. And coconut flakes baked with liquid smoke were used for the bacon.
The coconut bacon I used is Cobi’s from Veggietorials. This is the first coconut bacon that I’ve ever made. And it will probably be the only recipe I ever use because it is the perfect combination of smokey, sweet, salty and spicy. Since the first time I made it (mentioned in my “picture an hour” post), I have made it several times.
Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Kale and Coconut Bacon
adapted from Martha Stewart
- 4 butternut squash (about 4.5-5 pounds)
- 5 large kale leaves washed, tough cores removed and torn into smaller pieces
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3/4 cup cashew cheese
- 1 1/2 tbs chopped chives
- 3-4 tbs panko crumbs
- olive oil
- garlic and onion powder
- salt and pepper
- enough coconut bacon (or any vegan bacon) to top each squash half to your liking.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash the butternut squash and microwave them for about 3 minutes to make them easier to cut. Halve all the squash and sprinkle each half with a little salt and pepper. Place the squash halves (open sides up) in a pan (I ended up using two pans) with about 1/4 inch of water and bake covered for about 25-35 minutes (squash should be tender when pierced with a fork). While the squash is baking, steam or saute the kale leaves with the garlic and set aside.
Take the squash out when done baking and turn oven down to 425 F. When the squash are cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl leaving a small border of butternut squash in each half to help it keep its shape. Mash up the flesh with a fork. Then thoroughly mix in the cashew cheese, chives, kale and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the emptied butternut squash halves with this mixture. In a small bowl, mix the panko crumbs with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper. I used my hands to mix everything well to make sure all the panko was seasoned.
Sprinkle the panko mixture on the stuffed butternut squash and bake uncovered at 425F for about 20-25 minutes until warmed through. Finally, top with as much coconut bacon as you desire!
This dish is a combination of so many flavors that I love. Subtle sweet squashiness from the butternut squash. A slight cheesiness from the cashew cheese. And a touch of smokey saltiness from the “bacon”. It also has wonderful contrasty textures. From the creaminess of the butternut squash filling to the crispy panko and chewy coconut bacon.
This is one of those meals that I try really hard to eat slowly otherwise I might inhale it all at once. So with each bite, I close my eyes and let all the contrasting flavors and textures mingle awhile before I dive in for another. I may or may not make audible moans of pleasure while eating this dish.