(Note: this post was originally published on December 4, 2020. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)
Stuffed Delicata Squash for the Holidays
This holiday season, I'm excited to be sharing with you one of my absolute favorite dishes to make for a special late fall or winter occasion: these festive, comforting, and nourishing wild rice stuffed delicata squash halves. These show-stopping squash halves can easily act as a main course for plant-based eaters and as a side dish for anyone, so they're the perfect addition to a holiday meal.
Everything about this vegan stuffed squash dish is so festive and special. All of the ingredients are such classic winter holiday flavors including vibrant citrus, juicy pomegranate, decadent figs, crunchy walnuts, and woodsy rosemary. It's the epitome of Thanksgiving fare.
But don't worry, this wild rice stuffed squash recipe is actually easy to make and most of the work can be done ahead of time. You'll prepare the filling and squash separately since both cook more effectively that way. When you're ready to eat, just stuff the squash and enjoy. Because this recipe is secretly easy but appears fancy, it's a fall and winter win for both weeknights and holidays.
What is Delicata Squash?
Delicata squash are long, narrow squash with a beautiful striped exterior and a bright yellow interior. They're a fabulous "weeknight squash" because they're the fastest and easiest winter squash to prepare. The skin is edible, so there's no messy peeling needed. They also cook very quickly and can be ready in as little as about 15 minutes, depending on how you prepare them.
Delicata squash has a delightful, delicate flavor; it's less "squashy" than other types. Accordingly, if you're cooking for people who aren't big squash fans, these pretty little squash are a great place to start.
How to Cook Delicata Squash
Good news: delicata squash is fast and easy to prepare. For this stuffed delicata squash recipe, you'll cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out their seeds, and roast them in the oven. However because of their small size and the fact that they slice easily, delicatas cook great in a skillet too (check out my Orange and Cinnamon Roasted Delicata Squash for a stove-top dish). They even cook great in the air-fryer; we do air-fried delicata squash "fries" for fall weekend happy hours! So whether you make this wild rice stuffed delicata squash for Thanksgiving or air-fried delicata "fries" for your next Friday night in, I hope you'll experiment with adding this beautiful squash into your diet.
The star of the filling for this these vegan stuffed squash is wild rice. You'll toss the wild rice in a dressing while it's still hot, which is my favorite way of encouraging rice to soak up flavor. Add in dried cranberries for sweetness, crunchy walnuts, and some very festive garnishes and you have yourself a totally holiday-worthy centerpiece.
I'm very happy to be collaborating with Saratoga Olive Oil to bring you this festive winter recipe (this is actually our second recipe together; make sure to check out our Grilled Peach and Farro Salad too). This wild rice stuffed squash makes use of two of Saratoga Olive Oil's most decadent, cozy, wintry products: Vermont Maple Balsamic and Rosemary Olive Oil. The combination of the two is utter perfection.
Bonus: if you love this healthy stuffing, feel free to make just the stuffing recipe to serve as a side dish. You can also stuff it into other types of squash.
Stuffed Delicata Squash Variations
Looking to change this recipe up? I've made it with great success using all sorts of other winter squashes (just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly). I highly suggest adding some caramelized onions to the filling if you don't mind an extra step. You can use pecans instead of walnuts, switch up the garnishes, or use brown rice instead of wild rice. If I'm feeling really over the top, I mix in some veggie sausage that I've browned in a skillet. This vegan stuffed squash recipe is really flexible, so don't be afraid to get creative with it.
If you're planning to serve this at a big holiday meal, you can easily double the recipe. The leftovers are absolutely divine (especially when heaped into my Thanksgiving Leftover Tacos!), so don't hesitate to make more than you think you'll need.
This dish is make-ahead friendly for easy holiday entertaining. If you want to prepare these pretty wild rice stuffed squash halves ahead of time, you can easily make the stuffing (rice, dressing, cranberries, and walnuts) and roast the squash a day or two in advance. Store them separately for best results. To reheat, a microwave works great and keeps them moist; otherwise, stuff the squashes and put them in a 350 degree oven in a covered baking dish until warmed through. Add the garnishes (pomegranate, citrus slices, figs) just before serving.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this vegan stuffed squash recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Maple balsamic. I love the Vermont Maple Balsamic from Saratoga Olive Oil. Any other fall-inspired balsamic will work well too, such as their Fig, Cranberry Pear, or Pomegranate. If you can't get your hands on an infused balsamic, I'd use 3 tbsp regular balsamic and 1 tbsp maple syrup.
Rosemary olive oil. My neighbors at Saratoga Olive Oil make a fabulous rosemary-infused olive oil. Any of their herby oils will work well though, including their Herbes de Provence or Tuscan Herb. Otherwise, use any robustly-flavored oil and a palmful of very finely chopped fresh rosemary.
Salt and pepper
Wild rice. I love to use a really long-grained wild rice in this stuffed delicata squash recipe because the texture is wonderful. Look for it in the bulk bins if you have a natural foods store near you.
Unsweetened dried cranberries
Small citrus fruits. Either mandarins or clementines are fine.
This vegan stuffed squash recipe is such great proof that festive holiday dishes don't have to be heavy. These colorful, vibrant squash are loaded with nutrients and fiber, feature a bunch of different seasonal ingredients, and have a light vinegar-based dressing. No heavy, brown, or bland comfort food here!
I can't wait for you to try these stuffed delicata squash for your next holiday meal. They've become such a favorite in our house and I've made them for years, including the first time I ever hosted Thanksgiving. It makes me so happy to be able to share these sorts of nostalgic recipes with you. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: This recipe has been developed through a paid partnership with Saratoga Olive Oil. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
Eat Colorfully, Live Colorfully
Subscribe to my brand new newsletter!
It's much more than just food. Together we'll explore seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. But we'll also delve into health and wellness topics, self care tips, books, podcasts, and the natural world. This newsletter is all about leading a more colorful, plant-filled, holistic, and intentional life.
This stuffed delicata squash is bursting with chewy wild rice, crunchy walnuts, juicy seasonal fruits, and lots of fragrant herbs for an unforgettable holiday centerpiece. It's a festive vegan main course that celebrates fall produce in all its glory.
0.25 c maple balsamic vinegar (see substitutions in post text)
2 tbsp rosemary-infused olive oil (see substitutions in post text)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
Zest of an orange
0.25 tsp sea salt
Very generous black pepper
For the Squash
1 c long-grained wild rice
3 medium-sized or 2 very large delicata squash
Generous salt and pepper
0.25 c unsweetened dried cranberries
0.25 c chopped walnuts
Handful of pomegranate arils
Slices of a couple mandarins or clementines
Handful of fresh figs, cut into quarters
Make the dressing and set it aside.
Cook the wild rice as directed; note that it may take as long as an hour if you use a long-grain rice.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the squash. Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the ends off the squash, cut each in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Salt and pepper the insides generously, then bake cut-side down in a well-oiled baking dish for 30-45 minutes. You want them to be tender throughout but still holding their shape.
When all of the water has evaporated from the rice, leave the heat on low and add the dressing, cranberries, and walnuts. Stir the rice and let it sit on the heat for another few minutes so that the rice absorbs all the flavors of the dressing and the cranberries plump up.
Transfer the squash halves to a serving platter, then fill each squash with the wild rice stuffing.
When you're ready to serve, garnish with pomegranate arils, citrus slices, and fresh figs.
Serve any extra stuffing on the side, or make a bed of it underneath the squash halves.