This stuffed delicata squash makes for the perfect transitional side. And by transitional I mean it can be a side for the meat-eaters but easily transition into a main dish for the vegan and vegetarian folks. (I also call these substantial sides or meal-worthy sides because apparently it is in my nature to be wildly inconsistent. Either way: Super-handy for multi-vore households.)
After all, they say Thanksgiving is all about the sides. And as someone who doesn’t partake in turkey, it’s safe to say that I agree. This stuffed delicata squash side dish is one that I’m pretty excited about, too; with wild rice, lentils, and cranberries, it hits all the right marks.
This stuffed delicata squash recipe uses one of my favorite winter squashes to cook with, delicata squash. I’ve had these things in bowls, baskets, rolling around on my kitchen counter, and roasting in my oven all season long. Love the things, just love ’em.
This stuffed delicata squash might be my application so far.
What is Delicata Squash?
Delicata squash is a delicious winter squash that has really exploded in popularity over the past decade or so.
Pale to bright yellow in hue with green or orange vertical stripes, delicata squash’s small, oblong shape is similar to that of a chubby zucchini. Delicata, though, is a winter squash (zucchini is a summer squash).
Inside, delicata squash is a pale orange. The squash is creamy, light, and, well, delicate in taste – if Sweet Potato Lite was such a thing, delicata would taste a lot like that.
One of the best things about delicata squash is that the skin is great for eating – it’s thin and a bit chewy when cooked. Being able to leave the skin on makes for a prettier presentation – and whole a lot less preparation. Win!
How to Make Wild Rice & Lentil Stuffed Delicata Squash
Half and de-seed your delicata squash, brush with olive oil, and place the oven to roast. While that’s happening? Whip up a your hearty wild rice pilaf, amped up with French green lentils, flavored with curry powder and cumin, and dotted with dried cranberries and pecans. Yess.
Once your pilaf is done and your squash is roasted, just fill in your little squash boats, sprinkle with parsley, and away you go.
Can’t you just see this on your Thanksgiving table?
Oh and did I mention these bad boys are vegan AND gluten-free? Perfect for when you have guests with special diets – just cover ’em all in one swoop. Well, and if you have anyone with nut allergies coming to the table, you could totally leave those out too – this dish is still plenty delicious without.
Wild Rice & Lentil Stuffed Delicata Squash with Cranberries & Pecans
For the pilaf (filling):
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 3/4 cup wild rice blend (rinsed well)
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 1-2 teaspoons curry powder (to taste*)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup French green lentils (rinsed)
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (packed)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
For the squash:
- 3 delicata squash (stems cut off, halved vertically, seeds removed)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish:
- A few leaves of fresh parsley (chopped, for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the pilaf. Set a large saute pan with lid (or a medium dutch oven) over low heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until a few pieces of the rice start to get golden on the ends, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for one more minute.
- Add 3 cups of the vegetable broth, the brown sugar, and the lentils. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer, stir, and cover. Set the timer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture begins to get too dry before being cooked all of the way, add additional broth. If the mixture seems too wet after cooking for awhile, vent the pan to help some of the liquid evaporate. I’ve found making the pilaf is not an exact science as each pan is different, so just monitor your pilaf as it cooks. Pilaf is done when it’s relatively dry and the lentils and rice are tender, about 40 minutes.
- Remove pilaf from heat and stir the dried cranberries and chopped pecans. Taste and add the remaining teaspoon of curry powder and more salt and pepper if you wish.
- Meanwhile, while the pilaf cooks, prepare the delicata squash. Cut the stems off the ends, half lengthwise, scrape the seeds out with a spoon, and brush the inside of each half with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place cut side down on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until fork-tender and golden around the edges. Remove from oven.
- When ready to serve, flip over the delicata squash and spoon pilaf into the squash halves. I like to mound it just a bit but not too much or serving will become interesting (as in messy). You may have some pilaf left over. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle chopped parsley over the top. Serve.
I thought this recipe sounded good at first….then as I read on I thought it sounded a little odd but I felt like giving it a try. I’m glad I did!! It’s pretty easy to put together and all of the flavors go well together. The only change I would make is omitting the brown sugar — it didn’t seem necessary. Thank you for the great recipe!
I’m glad you gave it a try! Thanks so much for coming back and giving it a review. 🙂
I made this recipe for dinner and it was delicious! I was a little nervous because it seems like it would be difficult but it was pretty easy! The delicata squash cooked in 20 minutes and the pilaf was really good! I cut down the recipe because I only had 1 delicata squash and I’m looking forward to having the other 1/2 for lunch tomorrow!
I’m so glad you liked this one, Cheryl!
This is one of the best things I’ve made & tasted in a long time!! My husband & I both loved it. Not difficult to make either.
I’m so glad it was a hit for you! Thank you so much for the review.
Amazing recipe, exactly what I was hoping for! I seasoned it a bit differently with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and dry mustard. Didn’t have cranberries so I used raisins instead. Delicious! You can also eat it by just grabbing it with your hand and it holds together really well! 🙂
This is absolutely delicious! I made it for my vegetarian adult daughter, but the entire family LOVED it! I will serve this throughout the winter, but it was especially fitting for Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing this gourmet-caliber recipe!
What could I substitute for the French green lentils? I was unable to find any at the store. Can you sub quinoa?
Thanks for any help!
I’ve not made this dish but I have cooked with red, green and French lentils. I’ve found that I can easily substitute green lentils for French lentils when cooking them on the stovetop.
Delish! Substituted quinoa for the rice and put it in at the same time as the lentils so both the pilaf and squash took 20 min. Super fast and tasty. Used one delicata and two honey nuts 😋
Love the quinoa sub! Thanks so much for the review. 🙂
Excellent! Made the easy to follow recipe and used it to stuff a squash and as a base for a budda bowl! Delicious 🙂
This is the best stuffed squash recipe I’ve ever made. Perfect spice profile. Perfect flavor. I don’t normally like cranberries that much but I loved them in this. The only thing we did extra was top with a little cheese and stuck it under the broiler for a couple minutes. Fabulous.
Love the idea of adding some cheese and broiling! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a review. I’m so happy this one was a winner for you!
The flavors of this dish are Amazing!
Went with quinoa because I already had some cooked-
everything else the same yum!
I’m so glad it was a hit for you! I really need to try this with quinoa. 😋
Wow this is a GREAT recipe, made it for a small dinner party last night and what a hit! The flavors were warm and cozy, the contrast with the cranberries and pecans was just perfect! Served it with a mixed greens salad with a maple dressing and homemade applesauce – perfection. Will definitely be making this again.
It was excellent, will make it again. A great dish to serve for company!
I did not use curry or the brown sugar. It was great without them!
I told a friend I was making a stuffed squash today and she sent this recipe insisting I try it. I do not have cranberries or pecans, so I’m going to add mushrooms and bypass the brown sugar.