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This vegan stuffed acorn squash is as delicious as it is pretty! Filled with a whiskey-spiked mix of brown rice, apples, walnuts and cranberries, then drizzled in maple tahini sauce, this healthy main dish is perfect for holidays and special dinners.
Stuffed squash is a dish that I usually file in the underwhelming category. It often sounds great in theory, but usually tastes kind of meh.
I mentioned last week that I feel the same way about rice pilaf. So as I did with my wild rice pilaf, I challenged myself to create a stuffed squash recipe that would knock my socks off when it came to flavor.
Guys, I spent weeks thinking about how to turn the stuffing into a flavor-bomb, and once the answer hit me it seemed so obvious. Whisky! I mean, whiskey is my answer to making all kinds of things delicious, from gravy to baked beans. I put some whisky into my stuffed squash filling and, as usual, it did not disappoint!
This is one vegetarian holiday main dish that’ll wow everyone at your table. Let’s talk about how it’s made!
- What You’ll Need
- How It’s Made
- Make-Ahead Option
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Vegan Holiday Main Dishes
- Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash
What You’ll Need
- Acorn squash. Look for squash that are heavy and firm, without any soft spots. The skin should be dull (not shiny) and the color should be dark green, ideally with a blotch of orange.
- Olive oil. You can substitute another high-heat oil if you’d like.
- Tahini. Look for this in the international foods section of your supermarket. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s brand.
- Maple syrup. You can substitute another liquid sweetener, such as agave, if needed.
- Apple cider vinegar. Other types of vinegars, such as red wine or white can be substituted if needed.
- Salt & pepper.
- Apple. Use your favorite type of apple for cooking (or even a pear). I like Granny Smith for the touch of tartness that it adds.
- Shallot. Onion can be substituted if needed.
- Chickpeas. We’re using canned chickpeas, which are precooked. If you’d like to use dried chickpeas, you’ll need to soak and cook them first. Try this method.
- Spices. We’re using dried thyme and rubbed sage.
- Whiskey. This can be left out if needed, but it adds so much flavor, so please use it if you can — it’s worth going out to buy a bottle!
- Brown rice. You can use another variety of rice if you’d like, but you’ll need to adjust the cook time.
- Soy sauce. Substitute gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos if needed.
- Walnuts. Another type of nut can be substituted if you’d like. Pecans or hazelnuts would be delicious!
- Dried cranberries. Feel free to use another type of dried fruit, such as raisins or currants.
How It’s Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!
Roast the Squash
- Cut your squash in half. Use a heavy chef’s knife, some elbow grease, and a good deal of caution! I like to cut my acorn squash lengthwise (i.e. parallel to the stem), because the halves come out identical that way, and each one makes a pretty little heart shape. Feel free to cut yours height-wise if you prefer though!
- Once they’re cut, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and rub the entire outer surface of each half with some olive oil.
- Arrange the squash halves on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, and roast the squash until it’s tender.
Make the Filling
You can make the filling while your squash roasts. Gather and prep all of your ingredients so they’re ready to go when you need them. Keep in mind that this recipe calls for cooked brown rice. You can use leftover rice if you’ve got it on hand, or cook some while prepping the ingredients. Just make sure it’s fully cooked and ready to go before you get started!
- Heat some oil in a medium skillet. Once the oil heats up, add some diced apple. Let it cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, flipping it at least once. The apple is done cooking when it’s soft and has some brown spots. Use a spatula to take the apple out of the skillet and transfer it to a plate.
- Add more oil to the skillet, let it heat up, and add some chopped shallots. Sweat the shallots until they soften up, for about 5 minutes. Now add some garlic and cook it for about a minute more.
- Chickpeas, spices and whiskey go into the skillet next.
- Bring the liquid up to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes, until the liquid has significantly reduced. You want all of the alcohol to cook off, so give your ingredients a sniff and taste test before moving on: if you can detect any alcohol it needs a few minutes more to cook.
- Once the alcohol is gone, add your rice and some soy sauce. You can also return those apples to the skillet.
- Cook everything for a minute or two, just until the ingredients are hot.
- Take your skillet off of the heat, stir in some walnuts, dried cranberries, black pepper, and season the mixture with salt to taste.
Tip: Need an all-purpose vegan holiday stuffing? The filling for this would work well with all kinds of dishes!
- Stuff your squash halves with the filling.
- Serve your squash boats with a drizzle of tahini sauce.
The filling and tahini sauce can both be made up to two days in advance. Reheat the filling on the stove top or in the microwave before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can this stuffed squash be made gluten-free?
Yup! Just use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
Is there a substitute for whiskey?
You could try using a tiny bit of bourbon extract for flavor, though I haven’t tried this.
Is whiskey vegan?
Most whiskey is vegan, but if you’d like to err on the side of caution, check with Barnivore to ensure the variety you’re using is.