This vegan stuffed butternut squash features a wild rice, lentil, mushroom, kale and cranberry filling and is perfect for a stunning main dish.
This stuffed butternut squash makes a crowd-pleasing main or side for holidays and everyday, especially served with the zesty parsley salsa verde.
Stuffed squash is the ultimate Fall comfort food. It’s warm, nourishing, satisfying, flavourful and so delicious. Give it a try for your next holiday or any special occasion.
- Dietary Features: Vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), gluten-free and nut-free.
- Beautiful meat-free main or side dish for holidays and special occasions.
- Made with simple ingredients.
- Hearty, filling and delicious.
- The filling and roasted squash can be prepared a day ahead for easy assembly.
Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.
- Butternut Squash: You’ll need a large, approximately 3 lb squash. You could also use 2-3 large acorn squash for an alternative. If you can’t find large squash, 2 smaller ones work.
- Maple Syrup: This can be substituted with agave syrup.
- Olive Oil: I like extra virgin olive oil but you could use any neutral oil for roasting the squash and sautéing the shallot and mushroom.
- Kale: I like kale best in this recipe because it’s a bit hardier than spinach, but spinach, Swiss chard or collard greens do work in place of kale.
- Wild Rice Blend: I like Lundberg Wild Rice Blend. If you can’t find a wild rice blend, brown rice works.
- Green Lentils: Be sure to use brown or green lentils. This recipe is not suitable for red lentils.
- Vegetable Stock: Any vegetable broth or stock works. I like Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base.
- Mushrooms: White, shitake or cremini mushrooms work.
- Shallot: Shallot is really nice in this recipe but you could use white or red onion in a pinch.
- Cranberries: If you can’t find dried cranberries, raisins would work but tart cranberries work best here.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Use toasted pumpkin seeds if you can find them, otherwise raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) work, or you could use slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts. These can be mixed into the filling or sprinkled on top.
How to Make Stuffed Squash
There are a few steps to the recipe, but if read it over before you start, you should have a good grasp of the flow so you can keep things moving and efficient.
For the full written recipe be sure to scroll down to the recipe card.
Step 1: Roast the butternut squash.
Start by cutting the stem side and bottom side off the squash so you have a flat surface on either end. Place the bottom half of the squash on your cutting board and carefully cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
Rub the squash flesh with 1 tbsp of the oil and the maple syrup, season with salt and black pepper and place it cut side down on the baking sheet.
Roast the squash for 35-45 minutes, flipping over halfway through, until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork.
Step 2: Cook the rice and lentils.
Bring the rice, stock and bay leaf to a boil in a medium pot, then cover and reduce to medium-low heat.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, then add the lentils and cook for another 20 minutes, until the rice and lentils are tender. If there is any remaining liquid you can drain that off and discard the bay leaf.
Step 3: Cook the vegetables.
While rice is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the shallots and mushrooms. Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 5-7 min, stirring occasionally until softened and golden-brown.
Add the garlic, thyme, kale and dried cranberries and cook for 2-4 min, stirring often, until the kale is tender. Add the white wine or additional stock and cook for 1 min, stirring often and scrapping any brown bits off the bottom, until the liquid has evaporated.
Step 3: Mix the filling.
Transfer the kale-mushroom mixture to a large bowl and add the cooked rice and lentils.
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small dish until combined, then add that as well and mix everything up.
Step 4: Stuff the squash.
Once the squash is finished roasting, carefully scrape a spoon down the “neck” of the squash, removing some of the flesh, to create more space for the filling.
Roughly mash the removed squash into the bowl with the rice mixture. Spoon the rice mixture into squash halves and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.
Pop the squash back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat through.
Step 5: Optional parsley salsa verde.
The parsley salsa verde is optional but makes an excellent addition to the final dish.
If you’d like to make it, add the shallot and vinegar to a bowl and let it sit for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Serve on the side to spoon over your squash.
Once the squash comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with the salsa verde.
Variations & Serving Ideas
There are lots of fun ways to customize this recipe. Here are some ideas:
- Curried Stuffed Squash: Omit the thyme and bay leaf and add 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne when you add the kale.
- Tahini Sauce: Instead of the salsa verde, the squash would also be yummy drizzled with this lemon maple tahini sauce or miso tahini sauce.
- Gravy: Serve with mushroom gravy or miso gravy instead of the salsa verde.
- Additional Herbs: Rosemary and sage make a nice addition. Try adding 1/2 tsp of either of them along with the the thyme and oregano.
- Chickpeas: Try adding 1/2 cup chickpeas to the filling for added texture.
- Vegan Sausage: To add vegan sausage, brown it in the pan before cooking the shallot and mushroom. Remove from the pan and then mix into the filling when you mix everything up.
Storing & Making Ahead
If you’re making this the day ahead for a holiday meal, I’d suggest roasting the squash and making the filling the day before and storing them separately.
About 30 minutes before serving, add the filling to the squash and reheat in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 F until heated through.
If you’re making the salsa verde, it’s best prepared shortly before serving, though the shallots and chopped up a few hours in advance.
Leftover stuffed squash can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Leftovers are delicious reheated in the microwave or oven for a quick lunch or dinner.
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For the Dressing
For the Parsley Salsa Verde (Optional)
- Preheat Oven: Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare Squash: Cut the stem side and bottom side of squash so you have a flat surface on either end. Place the bottom half of the squash on your cutting board, then carefully cut in half lengthways. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds.
- Rub squash with 1 tbsp oil and drizzle with 1 tbsp maple syrup. Season well with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast Squash: Roast on the middle rack in the preheated oven for 35-45 mins, flipping halfway through, until flesh is very tender when pierced with a knife.
- Cook Rice and Lentils: To a medium pot, add wild rice blend, vegetable stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook rice for 15 mins, then add lentils and cook for another 20 mins, until rice and lentils are tender. Drain off any remaining liquid if needed.
- Cook Vegetables: While rice is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add shallots and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 min, stirring occasionally until softened and golden-brown.
- Add garlic, thyme, kale and dried cranberries. Cook for 2-4 min, stirring often, until kale is tender.
- Deglaze Pan: Add white wine or additional stock. Cook for 1 min, stirring often and scrapping the brown bits from the pan, until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix Filling: Transfer kale mixture to a large bowl. When rice and lentils are cooked, remove bay leaf, then transfer to the bowl with the kale.
- Make Dressing: To a small bowl, add oil, balsamic, maple syrup, dijon and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine. (Note: you could also add dressing ingredients to a jar and shake really well to combine.)
- Pour dressing over kale and rice mixture. Add half the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine.
- Fill Squash: Once the squash is finished roasting, carefully scrape a spoon down the “neck” of the squash, removing some of the flesh, to create more space for the filling. Roughly mash the removed squash into the bowl with the rice mixture. Spoon rice mixture into squash halves. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.
- Heat Through: Return the squash to the oven for 5-7 min, to warm through.
- Make Salsa Verde: If you’re making the optional salsa verde, add the shallots and vinegar to a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to soften (this takes the sharp bite out of the shallots but is optional). Stir in the rest of the ingredients until fully combined.
- Serving: Transfer squash to a platter. Sprinkle remaining parsley over top and serve with the parsley salsa verde, if using.
If you can’t find a large butternut squash, two smaller ones work!
To make ahead: make the filling and squash the day before serving. Assemble 30 minutes before serving and reheat in the oven at 350 F for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Leftover squash can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
Nutrition facts are estimated for 1 serving of 6 as a main dish. I think this could serve 8-10 for a side dish, depending on the size of your squash. Sodium content will vary based on stock used and amount of salt added. without the broth and added salt, it’s 39 mg per serving.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 353
- Sugar: 14 g
- Fat: 11 g
- Carbohydrates: 60 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 12 g
Keywords: stuffed butternut squash, vegan stuffed butternut squash