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Birchrunville Store Cafe Bread Stuffing With Butternut Squash

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 (1 lb.) loaf firm white bread
1/2 C. walnuts
2 T. olive oil, plus some to coat the casserole dish
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
3/4 t. minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 t. minced fresh sage leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 t. salt or more to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 C. dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast until the flesh is tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside, leaving the oven on.

Cut the crusts off the bread and cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Arrange in a single layer on two baking sheets and place in the heated oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes; set aside. (Steps 1 and 2 can be done a day ahead. Refrigerate squash until time to use; store bread cubes at room temperature.) If proceeding with the stuffing, leave the oven on.

Toast the walnuts by placing them in a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; set aside.

Place the 2 tablespoons oil and the shallots in a 12-inch skillet. Cook over low heat until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Scoop the cooked butternut squash out of the halves and add it to the pan, along with the rosemary, sage, salt and pepper, stirring until squash is heated through. Add bread cubes, toasted walnuts and the cranberries; toss to combine.

Rub the inside of a shallow casserole dish with olive oil, coating the bottom and sides. Fill casserole with stuffing. Bake in a preheated 350F. oven until stuffing is heated through and crisp, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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