Dates for Everyone on Day 16

The beautiful sunshine streamed in our bedroom window this morning.

And with it came my enthusiasm. It also reminded me that today we were arriving  (metaphorically speaking) in the Middle East.

The Middle East has always fascinated me, it is a place of great beauty and abundance and then barren and harsh deserts.

I have chosen to be inspired by dates. Dates have been a staple of the Middle Eastern Diet for thousands of years, they were first cultivated in Iraq and there is evidence that they were used as early as 4000 B.C!

A versatile and delicious sweet treat, there are over 100 different species of dates. They can be used to make wine, eaten as a snack, the base for amazing desserts or as a flavour enhancer for savoury dishes.

Today I am taking inspiration from the Iraqi obsession with stuffed dishes. I will be using sweet butternut squash and stuffing it with a feta, date and rice mix.

Butternut Squash

Iraqi Inspired Stuffed Butternut Squash

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 Medium Size Butternut Squash
1/4 cup of chopped dates
75g of crumbled feta cheese
1 cup of cooked white rice (I used basmati but probably a medium or short grain rice would be better)
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of Paprika
1 tsp of Cardamon
1/2 tsp of black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of rock salt
20g of parsley chopped finely
1 tsp of Olive Oil

Method:

  1. Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthways.
  2. Remove the seeds.
  3. Heat a pan on a medium heat and then toast the paprika, cinnamon and cardamon until they become aromatic.
  4. Place this in a mortar with the salt and peppercorns and pound into a powder.
  5. Chop the dates reasonably finely;
    Dates
  6. Add the spice mix and dates to the white rice.The rice
  7. Then add the crumbled feta cheese and chopped parsley and stir to create a smooth mixture.
  8. Spoon into the Butternut Squash in place of the seeds.
    Awaiting the oven
  9. Cook in the oven at 100° for around 2 1/2 hours – this slow cooking helps to make the butternut tender and keeps the filling from drying out. If you have less time, cook at 180° for 45-60 minutes (check with a fork to see if it is cooked – if the fork goes in and out without any tension it is done).

The final product

Et Voila!

Tomorrow we will be having a Turkish feast at our place.

Our lovely family members – Dawn, Ian and Joy (who are loyal followers of this blog) will be joining us, and finally get to taste some of this food! I am anxious and excited to hear what they think :{.

I will posting the results over a few days – so thanks for following and hope you come back for more recipes soon!

– Ginga Musings

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