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
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Arrange squash halves on cookie sheet, cut-side down. Roast 40-50 minutes, until tender when pierced. Set aside.
- 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.
- When carrots are tender, add syrup, cinnamon and cranberries. Stir until well-mixed. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove carrot mixture from oven. Stir in hot, cooked rice.
- Arrange squashes, cut-side up, on serving dish or individual plates. Fill with rice and carrot mixture, pressing gently with spoon to secure. Enjoy!