I had some vegetarian guests at my Pesach seder, so I was looking for something to prepare for a veggie main dish that's kosher for Pesach (duh), can be made ahead (seder logistics), and is also attractive -- a festive dish for a festive meal, in other words. Isaac Moses on Mi Yodeya pointed me to a "veggieducken" recipe created by somebody who had a similar problem for Thanksgiving. The recipe was easy to tweak to make it kosher for Pesach, so I decided to make that.

photo: two slices on plate

My adaptation (with commentary):

Finely chop one large onion (mine was red), 6 cloves of garlic, and, because the person with the pepper allergy cancelled at the last minute, one large red bell pepper. Saute in olive oil for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop 2 cups parsley (hey, something to do with the rest of the bunch I needed for the seder!), about 1 cup fresh sage (I was light on this), and the leaves from a fistful of fresh thyme. (I wasn't sure what the stems would do to the texture and I had more thyme than the 2T called for by the recipe, so I just harvested the leaves from what I had.) This might be a good time to mention that all volume measurements are approximate.

Combine the greens in a bowl with the cooked onion mixture, about 2C matzah meal (recipe called for 4C breadcrumbs but that seemed way too much), 0.5C vegetable broth, about 1T kosher salt, and 1t ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly. We will designate this as "the stuffing".

The recipe calls for a banana squash, about 2 feet long. I don't know if I've ever seen a banana squash; the only squash I've seen that look kind of like the one in the picture on the recipe site are spaghetti squash (but they're smaller). But these are all fall squashes, mainly -- a problem to which I had not given adequate thought before shopping. The only large, long squash (as opposed to roundish ones like acorn) that I could find were butternut. The recipe suggests butternut as an alternative and my instinct said it would work too, so I went with that. Locally-available butternut squash this spring are kind of small, so I bought three. (A foot? 15 inches? Something like that.)

Cut the squash in half (lengthwise :-) ). Scoop out the seeds and stringy fibers, and because you need space for the whole length of the squash, carve out a fairly sizable channel. (I saved the good squash from this excavation to cook separately later.) Render one of the halves stable (cut side up) by carving off some of the rounded part. (I got this right on two of the three; the third one fell over in the oven.)

Put the bottom piece on a baking sheet, add some stuffing, and then, according to the recipe, add half a leek, cut lengthwise, cut side up. You know how squash are small this time of year? Leeks are freaking enormous. I ended up cutting one leek into about 8 pieces lengthwise to get leek-parts small enough to work with butternut squash. This did not work all that well; if I do this again at this scale I'll try scallions. Anyway, after the leeks you're supposed to add more stuffing (I forgot), then a yam that you have previously peeled and nuked for a few minutes to soften up. I bought the skinniest yams I could find but they were too thick to fit, so I ended up cutting them in half lengthwise. That reduced the presentation aspect, but allowed me to assemble the dish. After the yams you do the rest in reverse -- stuffing, leeks, stuffing, other half of squash. You're making a giant squash sandwich, so to speak.

The recipe says to bake at 350 for an hour (covering with foil if the squash browns too quickly, which mine didn't). Even though my squash sandwiches were smaller than what the recipe describes, I needed to cook them another 20 minutes or so before I was satisfied that the squash and yams were soft enough. This may be a difference in density between butternut squash and banana squash; I don't know.

After removing from the oven let sit for at least 10 minutes, then cut disks (as shown in the photo). The ends might not be worth serving, if the stuffing and yams didn't make it all the way down -- treat as leftovers for yourself as needed. I made pieces about 2.5 inches wide.

This took a long time to prepare (more than an hour; would have been faster with a food processor), but I found the results quite tasty and my guests seemed to like it. I would (no surprise) use more garlic next time, and consider adding a yellow bell pepper. I placed the cut disks on a platter, covered it with foil, and set it on a warming tray to hold for a few hours until we got to the meal, and that worked fine. (The oven was busy holding something else. I need a bigger oven.)

Maybe in the fall I'll meet a banana squash and make it the way the author intended, just for grins.