This makes a great side dish to go with a Christmas ham, and it's hearty enough to serve as a main course for vegetarians. I've also made this dish (or one like it) to take to a potluck dinner.
You may substitute peeled chunks of sweet potato for the butternut squash, if you prefer.
Butternut Squash, Fruit and Nut Dressing
2 1/2 cups butternut squash cut into one to 1 ½- inch cubes Note: many supermarkets carry peeled and seeded butternut squash, refrigerated, in the produce section
5 cups whole-grain bread cubes (from 4 large slices of bread). Note: Bread should either be toasted before you cut into cubes or left out overnight so that it’s “stale.” If you have stale whole-grain bread, use that.
2 T canola oil
½ cup chopped celery and/or carrots
½ cup diced onion, leeks or shallots
2 eggs, lightly beaten, or equivalent amount of egg whites or egg substitute
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 T fresh thyme
½ cup golden raisins, dried cranberries or a mix of both
½ cup chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place the squash in a steamer insert inside a 2-quart saucepan. Add ½ cup water, sprinkle with salt, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until squash is still al dente, about 3-4 minutes depending on thickness of the cubes. Remove from heat and rinse squash under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables (celery, onions, etc.) to pan and sauté, stirring, until veggies are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
3. Combine remaining ingredients (eggs through salt and pepper) with cooled veggies in a large mixing bowl. Add bread and squash; stir well.
4. Turn into an oiled baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 60 minutes in a preheated, 350- degree oven.
5. Let cool slightly before serving.