How, after all these years of cooking, do you still manage to cut your finger each time?
That was Desi’s exasperated, if highly exaggerated reaction, when I told him I’d chopped my finger along with the tempeh while putting together this Squash and Tempeh Stuffed Naan. No, I don’t cut my finger each time I cook — in fact, it’s been at least six months since I last did it, and I swear that time it was nothing more than a scratch. But this time, as the knife came down, I could hear a sickening squish followed by enough bleeding to make me feel a little light-headed.
I pressed on, because the idea of not being able to make and eat these naans I’d been dreaming of for weeks was far more unbearable than a bleeding finger.
But typing– now that’s another matter– because every time that darn finger hits the keyboard, I want to cut it off for good.
So let me get to the point before I do something drastic — the Squash and Tempeh Stuffed Naan, which is crispy and flaky and soft and quite perfect. The stuffing, spiced and delicious, is slightly chewy because of the tempeh, with velvety notes of roasted, golden butternut squash, all of it tied together delicately by a handful of spices: garam masala, green chilies, and turmeric. In fact, this filling is simplicity itself.
I daresay everyone knows a naan, but if you don’t, it’s a flatbread that’s leavened with yeast (unlike most Indian breads that happen to be unleavened), and it tends to be a rather popular item on Indian restaurant menus. Naans are an incredibly addictive bread– they are puffy and soft and chewy, and they just about take any sublime Indian curry to a new level of deliciousness.
And did I tell you Jay loved this naan? The filling’s dee-li-shus, Mom, he declared, which — from him — is high praise indeed. 🙂
This will probably be my last post before Thanksgiving, so I want to sign off today with a Very Happy Thanksgiving to all of Holy Cow!’s readers, and a wonderful start to the always welcome holiday season. Hope you have many happy reunions with family and friends. Around here, Desi, Jay, Opie and I will celebrate our second Thanksgiving as a family, and we can’t wait.
See you after!
Squash and Tempeh Stuffed Naan
- For the naan:
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 7 ounces of extra firm tofu blended with 1/4 cup of nondairy milk Yields approximately 3/4 cup
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3-4 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- For the squash-tempeh stuffing:
- 2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
- 8 ounces of tempeh chopped very fine
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 green chili like serrano or jalapeno minced
- 2 spring onions white and green parts chopped
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, place the sugar, yeast, and warm water and wait about five minutes to ensure the yeast froths.
- Add the tofu mixture and then add two cups of flour, salt, and oil and mix.
- Add the remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough comes together but is still fairly sticky and soft. I needed about 3 1/2 cups of flour, but the amount you need could vary based on temperatures and humidity where you are.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning over once. Cover tightly with cling wrap or a kitchen towel and let it stand about two hours.
- Make the stuffing:
- Place the butternut squash cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with some oil, and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a cube goes cleanly through. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and minced green chili and cook until the onion is soft, stirring now and then. Add the turmeric and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
- Add the tempeh and the butternut squash. Use a potato masher to break the squash and tempeh further.
- Add the garam masala and salt to taste. Add the green onions and mix well.
- At this stage, preferably put the mixture in a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture is evenly broken down. You don't want any big pieces of onion or tempeh breaking through your naan.
- Make the stuffed naan:
- After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a flat surface and divide into eight portions.
- Shape each into a round and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Use a rolling pin or your hands to shape each round into a five-inch circle. Place about 2 tbsp of stuffing inside the ball and gather up the sides. Seal at the top.
- Roll each circle out into a teardrop-shaped naan, about 7 inches in length (or any shape you please. Teardrops are more traditional).
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Place as many naans as will fit in a single layer, side by side on a baking sheet.
- Bake on the lowest rack of the oven about 8 minutes, turning once halfway through baking. If you wish, spray some oil after flipping and sprinkle on some sesame seeds, then continue to bake.
- Serve hot with vegan raita.