Carrot and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

carrot and cranberry stuffed acorn squash

All fall long and well into the winter, produce from the amazing squash family is abundant in gardens and grocery stores, food stands and farmers markets. Beside the best-known pumpkins and butternut squash, there are cushaws and delicatas, acorn squash and spaghetti squash, Hubbard and Kabocha — all slightly different in taste and texture and nutritional profile. Which means, we need lots of recipes to help us enjoy this bounty to the fullest. I make a mean Thai Butternut Squash Soup and I bake a lot with pumpkin. In search of a great stuffed squash recipe over the years, I finally landed on this one. The carrots with the pecans, cranberries with the mushrooms, and maple syrup with the rice all combine to create a sweet and savory balance that’s so tasty. Feel free to substitute other squash with this filling; I think butternut or delicata would be especially good. This would also be a lovely main course for a vegetarian Thanksgiving, a meatless Monday or a more plant-based diet for the new year.

Makes 8 main meal servings

Ingredients

  • 4 acorn squashes
  • 8 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, divided
  • 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup cooked rice (brown or wild rice are more nutritious and flavorful choices than white)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Brush edges and interior of squash halves with 4 tsp. oil.
  2. Mix 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, pepper and thyme together in a small bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture into the bowls of the squash.
  3. Arrange squash halves on cookie sheet, cut-side down. Roast 40-50 minutes, until tender when pierced. Set aside.
  4. While the squashes are roasting, combine remaining 4 tsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, along with 1 1/2 tsp. oregano. Mix with carrots, mushrooms, onion, pecans and ginger in an 8-inch baking dish. Roast at 375°F for 20-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  5. When carrots are tender, add syrup, cinnamon and cranberries. Stir until well-mixed. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Remove carrot mixture from oven. Stir in hot, cooked rice.
  7. Arrange squashes, cut-side up, on serving dish or individual plates. Fill with rice and carrot mixture, pressing gently with spoon to secure. Enjoy!

Linked at Fiesta Friday and Meatless Monday.

 

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