How to Feed Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Friends: Roasted Squash Gratin
Feeding people with dietary constraints is both rewarding and challenging. It can be tough to find recipes that suit restricted diets but are still delightful enough for a weekend dinner with friends. But when the recipe turns out and the guests are raving, that is the rewarding part.
As someone who is lucky enough to be free of dietary restrictions, I can only imagine how it must feel to go to a friend’s house for dinner and have to navigate around the dinner table with caution. And with more and more diet types appearing every day, the importance of knowing how to handle them becomes even more prominent.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to ensure a delicious meal is tailored to multiple dietary constraints. Granted, I’m also someone who cares tremendously about eating together. For me, being able to feed someone, and feed them dishes they really enjoy, is one of the most satisfying things about cooking!
Because of the stress I’ve had in the past about serving a meal to those with dietary restrictions or allergies, I’ve decided to do a series of recipes that you can serve when hosting a dinner party and you’ve got some diets to work around. The series, entitled “How to Feed,” will be something I’ll publish about once a month, tagging the post with the “How to Feed” tag. As the series builds, I encourage you to check it out to see a more comprehensive look at feeding people!
My other goal with this series is to make dishes that are both low-stress for the cook and delicious for everyone. As the host, it is up to you if you want to serve one menu to everyone, or tailor a particular dish to those with the restricted diet.
For my first recipe in the “How to Feed” series, I’m going to talk about Squash. But not just any squash! I want to talk about creamy, sweet, orange-coloured squash stuffed to the brim with a garlic-y wild rice mixture filled with stringy mozzarella cheese and sauteed mushrooms. This dinner is perfect for guests that are gluten-free and vegetarian guests (general definitions are provided below if you aren’t sure!).
Squash is one of my favourite vegetables, particularly because they’re delicious and can store for a long time if kept in the right conditions. Depending on the variety, you can get squash that is slightly sweet and creamy, or more mild and stringy. For this recipe I’ve chosen Delicata Squash, which is slightly smaller than Butternut Squash and slightly sweeter. The stuffing, a mix of wild rice, mushrooms and mozzarella, is a perfectly savory contrast to the sweet squash, and is choked full of good-for-you fiber to fill you up! Stuffing a squash is actually really easy to do, and always look impressive. Best of all: you can pre-bake the squash halves in advance, and then stuff and re-heat right before serving!
Serves 1 squash half
20 minPrep Time
40 minCook Time
- two medium delicata squashes, sliced in half length-wise and the seeds and pulp scooped out
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsps butter
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms (about 200g)
- 1/2 cup wild rice, cooked
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup mozzarella, cubed in 1-cm thick pieces
- 1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the squash halves with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for 20 minutes or until soft but firm when pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, add the butter to a frying pan and melt over medium heat. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then the mushrooms. Cook for another 2 minutes then add the balsamic vinegar and wild rice. Remove from heat and stir in the cubed mozzarella.
- Remove the squash from the oven and flip it over so the cut-side is facing up. Stuff the middle with the mushroom mixture, sprinkle with the panko crumbs, and season again with salt and pepper. Put them back into the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and the cheese has melted.
You can also make this recipe in advance. Following the instructions right until you've stuffed the filling into the squash, then keep them in the fridge before you do the second and final bake. Feel free to swap the wild rice for other whole grains (barley also works well).
Gluten-free: someone on a gluten-free diet avoids anything that includes gluten (most breads, pasta, and cereals). Try serving dishes with lots of vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes or rice. Meat, poultry and fish do not include gluten (but be wary if they come pre-seasoned!).
Vegetarian: someone who is vegetarian does not eat meat, poultry or fish. Try serving dishes with lots of vegetables, fruits, eggs or dairy products.