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Photo © Real Food Daily

South American Squash Stew

Recipe from Ann Gentry, chef/owner, Real Food Daily


  • 8 dried, pitted apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 6 dried pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 large kabocha squash (about 5 1/2 pounds)
  • About 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes with juices, tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 (15 ounce) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Prep: Soak the apricots and prunes in a small bowl with 1 ½ cups water until tender, at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain and reserve soaking liquid. Preheat oven to 350ºF, and lightly coat a large heavy-rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Scrub the outside of squash. Using a sharp, heavy, pointed knife, cut a circular opening (about 3–4 inches in diameter) in the top of squash. Reserve top. Scoop out seeds and fibers, and discard. Douse your hand with about 1 tablespoon of oil, set squash bowl and lid on baking sheet, and rub hands on squash skin to coat to help prevent skin from becoming too dry.

For stew: Heat remaining two tablespoons of oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, and sauté about 3 minutes until tender. Add tomatoes and their juice and tomato paste, and stir until paste dissolves and the mixture simmers, about 3 minutes. Add Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potato, and reserved soaking liquid from dried fruit. Bring to simmer, and then reduce heat to medium low. Cover the pot, and simmer gently until Yukon gold potatoes are almost tender, about 12 minutes. Add pepper, corn, apricots, and prunes, and simmer, uncovered, until peppers begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add beans, mirin, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer until Yukon gold potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, about 5 minutes.

Carefully ladle stew into hollowed-out squash, and place lid on top; reserve remaining stew to serve with dish. Bake until squash skin is tender and a fork can pierce through the squash (about 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on size of squash).

Place squash on serving platter, remove lid, and starting at the top cut the squash into 1 ½-inch wedges. The squash will fan out like a lotus flower. Serve a wedge of squash with a spoonful of stew to each person.

Chef’s note: "This dish was a true revelation for me. My guests had a wide range of culinary inclinations, but every person at the table raved over this hearty and satisfying stew. It was a profound moment for me, as I realized everyone is hungry for nourishing whole foods."

—Ann Gentry


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