It’s all fun and games in my house until I try to sneak a meatless meal onto the table.
My mistake with this dinner was that I left a copy of the recipe on the counter.
Oh, the horror when my husband and daughter read it!
My daughter lamented, “I hate everything in this recipe.” We’ll circle back to that comment a bit later.
And my husband criticized, “I don’t see any meat in this recipe.”
Nope. You don’t. And it will be ok.
Challenging our Norm
We really are a meat and potatoes family. It’s safe to say that 99% of our main course meals include meat. We even add chicken or steak to most of our main course salads. (Check out this Grilled Peach and Chicken Salad recipe and our Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Caesar Dressing recipe.)
I also cook a pound of bacon at least once a week just so we have it on hand.
So, when I want to break out with a meatless meal, I choose carefully.
Because I know what the (initial) reaction will be.
You guessed it. Horror!
And, I was not disappointed in their reaction to this recipe. Horror barely covers it.
But when the meal hit the table, were they disappointed? Keep reading…
Vegetarian Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash
Simple to Make−Vegetarian Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash
Get the recipe from: Life Tastes Good
As mentioned, no one in our house (other than me) was exited about this recipe. They couldn’t get past that lack of meat.
However, I made sure to select my meatless recipe wisely.
What does that mean?
It means finding foods that both Husband and Daughter like while also pushing them outside their comfort zones.
For Husband, that meant appealing ingredients like Hot Pace Picante sauce, rice, black beans, and corn.
For Daughter, that meant favorites like cheese, rice, and butternut squash (although she would argue with that last one).
The ingredients also included certain items each claims to dislike (cilantro for Husband and black beans, corn, and butternut squash for Daughter).
Keep reading to find out their verdicts on this meatless meal.
Seven things to know about the Vegetarian Mexican Stuffed Butternut Squash recipe:
- Try to find 2 similarly-sized squashes so they cook evenly. Even though mine were as close in size as I could find, the larger squash definitely took longer to cook. I put the baking sheet in the oven with the larger squash in back as the back of my oven cooks more quickly than the front. Yes, that’s a thing. The larger squash still took more than 10 minutes longer than the smaller squash to fully cook. If you’re unable to find two squashes that are about the same size, you can start cooking the larger squash first (10-15 minutes) and then add the smaller squash.
- My squash took 60+ minutes to fully cook. Again, it will all depend on the size of the squashes you have, but plan at least 50 minutes. At that point, probe the squash with a fork. When the fork glides in smoothly, the squash is done. Check you squash starting at 50 minutes and then in 10 minute increments until you squashes pass the fork test.
- You can dial up or dial down the heat of the rice mixture. The recipe calls for either homemade salsa or your favorite purchased salsa and this is where you take charge of how hot you want it. Go for mild, medium, or hot. It’s up to you.
- Once squash is cooked, use a knife to score a border before scooping out the insides. By scoring the squash, it’s much easier to achieve a consistent border and it’s easier to scoop out the squash to make a boat for the rice mixture.
- My rice took about 15 minutes to brown and about 25 minutes to cook down once I added the chicken stock. Stir the rice continually while browning it so you get consistent color. Stir occasionally after adding the chicken stock.
- We definitely had leftover rice mixture. Not to worry. The leftovers are perfect for a burrito or a bowl. Add in some of the scooped-out squash and you have a delicious second meal.
- We added a squeeze of lime to our finished stuffed butternut squash before serving. My daughter recommended this and it was a great way to add an extra level of freshness to the meal.
So, what did my horrified family think after they ate this meal?
We’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s take a step back.
The aroma of the rice mixture brought my daughter down to the kitchen where she promptly reiterated, “I don’t like anything in this.”
So that explains why she grabbed a fork and did a taste test.
And then took two more (larger) bites.
“That’s actually really good.”
Am I surprised? No. Not at all.
She would still prefer not to have the black beans in there, but that’s a minor thing. She liked the rice mixture. I was halfway there with her.
My husband, on the other hand, made sure to remind me (before trying the dish) that it would be better with chicken.
And then he tried it and said the words I knew he would say (in some fashion or another): “I was skeptical,” (oh really???), “but this is really good. I’ve got to give you props on this one.”
“I would still add some chicken, but this is really good and very filling.” He was (almost) totally on board. I’ll never break him of his fully carnivorous ways, but this is a start.
As for my daughter…once we put the rice mixture into the squash and she tried everything together, she admitted, “I really like the squash.”
Ummm…yes, I knew that. In fact, we determined just how much she likes butternut squash when we tried three butternut squash recipes in our Butter Up Butternut Squash post. We sampled Twice Baked Butternut Squash, Baked Garlic Butter Parmesan Butternut Squash, and Roasted Butternut Squash. She was a fan of all of them.
The moral of this story? If you want your family to try something out of their comfort zone, find a recipe with a majority of ingredients within their comfort zone.
And then push them. Up to the table. To the plate. Push that fork into their mouths.
They might be surprised at what they like.