Stuffed Butternut Squash
Looking for a hearty vegetarian main dish? Roast up Stuffed Butternut Squash filled with cranberry rice, pecans, and chickpeas. Serve as a vegan main dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
For over 15 years I’ve been blogging every holiday recipe I could think of. Ones I make every year and ones I rotate around.
And yet here I am coming up with more ideas. Especially since I find vegetarian recipes very lacking on my end.
Although I have a ton of Thanksgiving dinner for two recipes – Stuffed Cornish Hen, Stuffed Turkey Breast, even Honey Glazed Ham Steak – I don’t have any main dishes for my vegetarian or vegan friends.
Since I’m often asked to post more vegetarian recipes, here’s my Stuffed Butternut Squash filled with cranberry rice, pecans, and chickpeas.
I made this stuffed butternut squash vegan mostly because it’s very easy to do. Swap olive oil for butter and vegetable stock instead of chicken.
That way there’s a main dish for everyone to eat and you’re not stuck cobbling all the side dishes together to try and make a fulfilling plate.
And honestly this vegan stuffed butternut squash so delicious, nobody will even notice. You don’t even have to mention it’s vegan unless someone asks for confirmation.
Of course this stuffed butternut squash recipe was planned with Thanksgiving in mind given it’s a huge food holiday, but you can absolutely make it any day winter squash is in season, even for your Christmas dinner for two.
What is butternut squash?
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash with a sweet, nutty taste. It’s very similar to pumpkin but has a tan skin and is wider at one end.
How many servings is stuffed butternut squash?
Serving sizes, especially when cooking dinner for two, is very subjective.
I personally think 1 whole squash will feed 1 person along with green onion salad. That would make it 2 servings.
However, if you’re making it as a Thanksgiving vegetarian main dish, you can stretch it to be 4 servings.
Can you stuff other winter squash?
Yes, you can use other varieties of winter squash, such as acorn or delicata.
Cook time and serving size may vary due to size and weight. Roast until fork tender. Any leftover rice can be served alongside the stuffed squash on the plate.
Ingredients For Stuffed Butternut Squash
The ingredients for butternut stuffed squash are pantry-friendly. In fact, you may be able to make this for dinner right now:
- Butternut Squash: Of course you can’t have stuffed squash without the squash! They come in a variety of sizes, so it’s hard to tell you exactly which one to buy. Look for one large enough to stuff but not so large you run out of stuffing. Mine were about 2 pounds each. If your squash is on the smaller side, you can either buy 3 of them or eat the remaining rice on the side.
- Olive Oil: Part of what makes this recipe vegan is using oil instead of butter. Use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil suitable for sautéing and roasting (not a finishing oil). You can also use butter (vegan or not).
- Salt: Salt makes everything taste better because it enhances flavor. Kosher salt is preferred, but you can use table salt in a pinch.
- Onion and Garlic: Known as aromatics, onion and garlic help build flavor into your rice. Use white, yellow, or even Vidalia onion.
- White Rice: Rice is a great way to bulk up your stuffed butternut squash recipe. You can use almost any type of grain – brown rice, quinoa, barley, even couscous (technically pasta but). Because the ratio of grain to liquid varies, follow the ratio and time on the back of your packaging. Brown rice takes much longer than white.
- Vegetable Broth: Another ingredient making your squash vegan-friendly. Broth is needed to cook your rice.
- Dried cranberries and pecans: I wanted to add some Thanksgiving flavor, so I chose dried cranberries and pecans. By cooking the cranberries directly in the broth, they plump up quite nicely.
- Canned chickpeas: The hardest part about eating vegan (or even vegetarian) is making sure you have enough protein to fill you up. That’s why I added chickpeas so you aren’t still hungry.
- Fresh herbs: I used chopped parsley for color and freshness, but you can use almost any herb – basil, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, whatever you have on hand.
Not winter squash season? Check out my stuffed peppers for two.
How To Cut Butternut Squash
The key to cutting a butternut squash in half to use a really good, really sharp knife. Not a flimsy knife from IKEA but a sturdy one.
Throughout college I used an IKEA knife and always had trouble cutting squash. Later on I upgraded and now it cuts through squash like butter.
If you really can’t cut your squash, you can soften it a bit in the oven or microwave for a few minutes then try again.
You want to cut it lengthwise, from the narrow end to the wide end. Once cut in half, scoop out the seeds then place each half on a baking sheet.
Can you eat butternut squash seeds?
Yes, you can absolutely eat butternut squash seeds! They’re very similar to pumpkin seeds.
First, clean the seeds by removing as much of the squash pulp as you can then pat completely dry.
Next, toss in some olive oil, sea salt, and any seasonings you may want to use. I personally like to use garlic powder but you can also use my homemade fajita seasoning for a kick.
Bake at 350F until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. You may want to check on them halfway and stir to ensure they are roasting evenly.
Let cool then snack away!
How To Cook Stuffed Butternut Squash
To roast your vegan butternut squash:
- Brush each squash half with olive oil then sprinkle with salt (preferably kosher).
- Bake at 425F for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender. The cook time will heavily depend on how large your squash is.
How To Cook Stuffed Butternut Squash
While your winter squash is roasting, time to make the cranberry rice stuffing!
It’s almost identical to my Cranberry Rice Pilaf but I used olive oil and vegetable stock to make my stuffed butternut squash vegan.
- Cook onion in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and rice then cook until the rice is translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in broth, dried cranberries, and salt then bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbedband the rice is tender, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add pecans and chickpeas then let it rest for at least 10 minutes (which should be easy as you wait for the squash to roast). This helps achieve a fluffier texture as well as letting the flavors meld a little more.
- Scoop out the squash, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick border all around.
- Add squash to the rice then transfer to the squash bowls.
- Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes.
What To Do With Leftover Butternut Squash
When you scoop out the insides of the squash, you won’t use it all in the rice.
Stuffed Butternut Squash FAQ
Although butternut squash skin is technically edible, it’s also really tough to eat. The best way to eat your roasted butternut squash is to scoop the inside out with a spoon, like a baked potato but leaving the skin behind.
No. Leaving the skin on helps keep your bowls together as they roast.
Yes! Roast your squash up to 3 days ahead of time and keep refrigerated until ready to use. The cranberry rice stuffing is best made the day of serving, but you can make that up to 1 day ahead of time.
What To Serve With Vegan Stuffed Butternut Squash
Whether you’re making rice stuffed butternut squash for Thanksgiving or Meatless Monday, here are some side dishes to serve:
- Homemade Gravy Without Drippings
- Mushroom Gravy
- Cranberry Stuffing
- Stovetop Scalloped Potatoes
- Kohlrabi Soup
- Small Batch Dinner Rolls
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 2 butternut squash large enough to stuff (roughly 2 pounds per squash)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
- Salt, preferably kosher
- 1/4 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup dry long white rice*
- 1 cup vegetable broth/stock
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts such as pecans, walnuts, or pistachios
- 1/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb such as parsley, cilantro, basil, sage, thyme, or rosemary
- Preheat oven to 425F. Have a baking sheet ready.
- Cut each butternut squash in half lengthwise (from stem to bottom). Scoop out the seeds and save for another use or discard.
If you're having trouble cutting, soften your squash in the oven or microwave for a few minutes then try again.
- Place each squash half on the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender. Once done, turn your oven down to 350F.
- Meanwhile, make the rice. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and rice. Cook until rice is translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly stir in the broth, cranberries, and 1/4 teaspoon salt then bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to low then cover with a lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender. If needed, add more salt to taste.
- Remove from the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the nuts, chickpeas, and herb.
- Once the squash are done and cool enough to handle, scoop out the inside, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick border all around. If you scooped too much, you can mash it back in.
- Add 1/2 cup of the squash puree to your rice mixture then save the rest for another use.
- Fill each half with the rice. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes or until hot.
To roast squash seeds:
- Clean the seeds by removing as much of the squash pulp as you can then pat completely dry.
- Toss in some olive oil, sea salt, and any seasonings you may want to use.
- Bake at 350F until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Check on them halfway and stir to ensure they are roasting evenly.
- *You can use another grain such as brown rice, quinoa, or farro. Because the ratio of grain to liquid varies,
follow the ratio and time on the back of your packaging.
- Cooking for the holidays? Check out my Thanksgiving For Two and Christmas For Two menus for recipe pairings.
- Use your leftover squash puree in my Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes or Butternut Squash Alfredo.
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First published October 22, 2021