What’s more comforting on a cold autumn evening than roasted winter squash? Mostly savory with just a little bit of sweet, this stuffed acorn squash can be an easy weeknight meal or the centerpiece of a delicious vegetarian feast. The sweet and creamy nature of the squash is balanced with a dose of ancient grains (you can use a wild rice blend if you prefer), tangy sweet balsamic peppers, peppery arugula, and briny bites of crumbled feta cheese. The best part when it’s cold and rainy outside? This is infinitely adaptable. Okay, infinite might be optomistic, but you’ve got some options here.
Simple Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash Options and Variations
The squash-If you want to stuff it nothing works quite as well as an acorn squash, you can pick your size and variety and go from there. Who says you can’t have stuffed squash deconstructed? If all you’ve got handy is butternut squash, or if you don’t like the sometimes grainy texture of an acorn squash, serve slices instead. Slices are also a great idea of you are serving a crowd with varying appetite levels. You can either slice the squash, fan it out and top it with the ingredients or serve each component in its own dish and pass and serve.
Grains– I use an ancient grain blend for the mildly nutty flavor and quick cooking time. Other options are quinoa, wild rice, or farro. Ideally something whole grain (or seed as the case may be) that has some flavor to it (white rice or cous cous are probably too bland but a wild rice pilaf might work)
Peppers-If you don’t have fresh red peppers for roasting jarred red peppers would also work. In a pinch I’d even use sweet hot pickled peppers but in a smaller quantity,
Cheese-feta is best. Crumbly salty cheeses of other varieties will also work. The idea is to offset the sweet, super creamy or milk cheese gets lost and muddies the flavor rather than enhancing.
Greens– Like the feta, arugula is best for balance. But if you’ve got a box of spring salad mix that’ll work too. Spinach? Parsley (in a smaller quantity)?
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1/2 cup balsamic roasted red peppers chopped
- 1 cup cooked ancient grains prepared according to package directions
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1-2 cups arugula
- 1 teaspoon olive oil plus a bit more for drizzling
- salt and pepper to taste
- balsamic vinegar for drizzling
- 1 head garlic totally optional, the squash makes a beautiful lid to oven roast garlic
Pre-heat the oven to 375
Prepare the squash for roasting by cutting in half and removing seed. Lightly brush the interior of the squash with oil.
Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If inclined place a head of garlic top trimmed off beneath each half of the squash. This is when I also roast the red peppers.
Roast squash until tender (the skin will indent when pushed gently with your finger). The time on this can vary wildly. Start checking at 30 minutes. If neccessary remove the peppers from the tray and continue to roast for another ten to twenty five minutes until tender.
While the squash is roasted cook the grains, they should be warm but not piping hot when combined with the peppers and feta cheese.
Combine grain, peppers, and cheese- seasoning with salt and pepper if neccessary and reserving a bit of feta to crumble over the top.
Stuff the squash with the grain mixture, top with arugula. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a cruble of feta, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
The peppers used are the balsamic roasted sweet peppers from this site. The herbs use to garnish the peppers can be omitted if you are topping with arugula.