When I saw this, I couldn’t resist — I just had to share it with you. You’ve probably heard of a turducken, but this ambitious recipe turns that concept on its head and goes vegetarian with it! Meet the Squash-ducken!

Squash-ducken with Pesto

from Food52

10.17 annabelle squashYou’ll Need:

  • 4 to 6 edible squash, ranging in size from very large (pumpkin) to very small (the important thing is that you are able to nest them snugly inside of one another)
  • Pesto (buy it or make your own, the Sage & Hazelnut Pesto the author used is on the website — see the link below)
  • Roasting pan large enough to snugly secure the largest squash; very sharp knives for cutting; spoons for carving and scooping; 2 large bowls for all your squash debris
  • A great attitude!

Prepare the Squash:

  1. Start with your largest squash. Do not peel the skin of this one, as it is the outermost ring of your squashducken and the skin is vital for the structural integrity. Instead, use a very sharp knife to remove its hat (as if you were carving a jack-o’-lantern) and then scoop out its insides.
  2. Oil the roasting pan, then set the hollowed, beheaded large squash inside of it. (I used our biggest Dutch oven, which cradled the squash nicely.)
  3. Now start on the second largest squash. Peel it, cut off its head, and scoop out the insides. You might need to thin it out from both the inside and the outside to ensure that it fits into the biggest squash.
  4. Repeat this beheading and bowl-ifying process with all of the squash, making sure to periodically gauge whether they are going to fit inside each other. The hardest part is over!
  5. Now you’re ready to par-cook. Put the second biggest squash (the largest squash does not need to be par-cooked) in a microwave-safe dish with a bit of water (1/8 to 1/4 inch is sufficient) on the bottom. Heat in the microwave in 5-minute increments until the squash is pliable; you should be able to wiggle it little without fear of breaking or tearing about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the squash to a cooling rack while you microwave all of the other squashes.
  6. Once all of your squash (except for that biggest one) have been microwaved, it’s time to make pesto and assemble.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Put the largest squash (the uncooked one) in the roasting dish if you haven’t already. Prick it all over its insides with a fork, and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Coat in a generous amount of the pesto (I used my hands for this task), then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  3. Rub the outside of the second largest squash with olive oil, and gently snuggle it into the largest squash. Continue with the oiling/seasoning/pesto-ing/breadcrumb-ing/chees-ing process until you’ve reached the innermost squash.
  4. Smear the rest of the pesto into any crevices, sprinkle with Parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and paprika. Fill any spaces with cubed bread, which will absorb the delicious squash and pesto juices.
  5. Cover the roasting dish loosely with aluminum foil, then bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes before checking. It will probably need 2 hours total before the outer squash ring is cooked (make sure it’s fork-tender and a texture you’ll want to eat!), but I like to keep a close eye on it in the last 30 minutes.
  6. In the last 5 or 10 minutes, you can uncover the squash, sprinkle it with Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and get the top nice and toasty, if you’d like.
  7. Once the squash-ducken is finished, take it out of the oven and leave it alone until it’s cool enough to handle. Get a friend to assist you! Get out a large serving platter and position it near the pan. As one of you holds the pan and tilts it towards the platter, the other should carefully transfer the squash-ducken onto the platter. Let it cool enough to eat, then slice into impressive wedges and serve.

For the full story of how this wild and wonderful idea came to fruition, including photos and a link to the original recipe, click here. If anyone makes this, please send us pictures!