A few days ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine about a project we were working on for Moms Against Poverty and we got to chatting. The topic of dinner came up and I told him I made some sausage and pepper roasted acorn squash—a staple dish of mine as the nights get longer. He responded with interest, curiosity, and a smidge of amazement (which is wholly undeserved). It is an incredibly easy, flexible recipe that should really be in anyone’s back pocket.
To dispel the mystery surrounding stuffed acorn squash, and because Bobak doesn’t dig on animal products, here’s a vegan version of my stuffed acorn squash that I have never made. Consider this my gift.
Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash
- An acorn squash, you could use another kind of squash too, but make sure it has a decent sized seed cavity. Spaghetti, kabocha, whatever, would be fine too.
- Some mushrooms
- A bell pepper, any color is fine
- A decent sized onion, or two smaller onions
- A clove or two of garlic, or more garlic if you like garlic
- Tomato paste, or not, your call
- Other spices you like, just make sure they go together
- Cooking oil
- Sheet pan
- A pot of some sort, could also be a big skillet
- Probably some other stuff I am forgetting
Phase 1 – Squash
Preheat your oven to 425°.
Cut your acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. If you run a paring knife around the inside of the seed cavity, they are much easier to scoop out. Or you can just use a spoon, like a savage.
Slice a sliver off the back side of the squash to create a flat spot for it to rest on the sheet pan. It sucks when they roll around and dump the filling out. Cutting the flat spot creates a handy little platform. You’re welcome.
Lightly rub the top, inside, and new flat spot with your cooking oil. Olive oil is fine. Avocado oil is good too. Use whatever you like. You don’t need a ton of oil. Just a thin layer to act as a conductor for the heat in the air of the oven and the exposed squash.
Place the oiled halves on the sheet pan, cavity-up, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy. Consider that you are salting the entire volume of the squash’s flesh. Of course, you can always add more salt later to taste. You’re a big boy (or girl, or otherwise). You can figure it out.
Put the squash into the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. If you have a small squash, reduce the time to 20 minutes. You’re precooking the squash so that when we fill it later, it requires less time to cook through.
Once time is up, pull the squash from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
Phase 2 – Filling
Dice up your vegetables. Not too small. You don’t want them turning to mush. Or maybe you do. Whatever makes you happy. I prefer to have texture of individual elements.
If you like garlic, mince or grate it. Good job.
Heat a little cooking oil in your pot or skillet. Put your garlic in. Once you can smell the garlic, add in the onion. Cook the onion for a few minutes until it turns lightly translucent. We’re cutting the raw onion edge, not caramelizing.
Add the rest of the vegetables and cook them until they are cooked. Rocket science.
Add a squeeze of tomato paste, salt, pepper, and whatever spices you chose because you are a grown-up and being a grown-up means learning to live with the choices we make.
If you’re feeling a little sassy, you can add a splash of water or vegetable stock, bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat of your stove, and let it reduce. It will help the vegetables’ flavor meld together a bit. It’s not necessary though, and this recipe works better when the filling isn’t super wet. Do what you want.
Phase 3 – Stuffing the squash
Now that your squash is precooked and your filling is ready, put the filling into the squash. A small mound just above the lip of the seed cavity is good. If it is overfilled, you risk spilling and then having the filling burn in the oven. If it’s underfilled, well, then you might as well just eat the fucking squash plain and call it a day.
Don’t worry about using all the filling. If you have extra (and you probably will) save it and eat it with rice or something the next day. It’s good that way.
Pop the filled squash back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Again, less for small squashes.
After the time’s up check the squash. The flesh should be very tender. If so, it’s done. Let it cool because that shit is hot as hell on the inside.
Congratulations! You roasted your very own stuffed acorn squash.