This Celebration Wild Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash is a healthy and festive way to present a main course for your vegan and vegetarian friends on Thanksgiving. Even if you don’t have vegan or vegetarian friends, this dish easily slides in among the many sides on your Thanksgiving table.
The hidden gem of this dish is that the rice is cooked by replacing half the water with orange juice. That acidic burst mixes well with the traditional flavor of sage and earthiness of mushrooms and the squash itself. Don’t be fooled, though. The flavors are abundant, and your mouth will go on an absolute roller coaster ride of sweet and savory, thanks to little bursts of dried cranberries and crunchy pumpkin seeds.
- 2 acorn squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups wild rice, prepared*
- 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 stalks celery, fine diced (about ¾ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon or ice cream scoop to clean out the seeds. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil onto the cut-side of each half, and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place cut-side down on the lined baking sheet, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
While squash is roasting, prepare rice according to package directions. Recommendation: Substitute vegetable broth for water to infuse more flavor.
Once squash is roasted, carefully remove about 1 cup of the squash – ¼ cup from each half – from the center. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once heated, add diced onions and cook until translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Add celery and mushrooms and continue cooking, until mushrooms release liquid and start to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add minced garlic. Cook for another 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium, and stir in prepared rice, cranberries, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in reserved ½ cup of acorn squash to bind mixture together. Continue cooking until orange juice is absorbed.
Remove mixture from heat. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Spoon mixture into the center of each acorn squash half and place back on the baking sheet.
Return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until fully heated through and the top of the squash is beginning to crisp. Serve.
Alternatively, replace pumpkin seeds with chopped walnuts or pecans. Fold in meatless sausage or canned beans of your choice for added protein. *Cook your wild rice according to package directions, but substitute half of the liquid for orange juice.