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Stuffed Butternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Carol Throckmorton


  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded

  • 1 Tbsp. plant butter, melted (optional)

  • 1 medium-sized apple, cored, and cut into small dice (1 C)

  • 1½ C spinach, finely chopped

  • ¼ C chopped pecans

  • 2 C cooked brown rice or wild rice blend

  • ¼ C sweetened dried cranberries or cherries

  • 1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning blend

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Yield: 4-8 servings


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking dish with non-stick spray (or line with unbleached parchment paper).

Cut the squash crosswise above the round end, then cut both sections in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds from the round ends. Using a melon baller, scoop out some squash from the neck to create a cavity; reserve for use in the stuffing. Slice a small sliver off the bottom of each squash piece to provide stability during baking.

Arrange the four squash pieces in the prepared pan, cut side up. Brush with plant butter, if desired. Transfer pan to the oven.

For the dressing, place the reserved squash in a food processor and pulse until chopped (not pureed). Transfer 1 C to a large bowl. Individually process the apple, spinach and nuts to a similar size and transfer to the bowl. Add remaining ingredients; combine thoroughly.

Remove the partially baked squash from the oven. Spoon the mixture evenly into each hollowed center. (Any remaining stuffing can be baked in a separate dish.) Cover squash loosely with foil; bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the squash is very soft. For a crisp topping, remove the foil for the last 15 minutes.

Serve each portion as an entree or cut in half for a side dish.

More from the Author:

This year, make it a ThanksVegan holiday. Here are some recipes to get you started.

The Thanksgiving table is usually surrounded with family, friends — and love.

This year’s holiday will be especially grand, since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled most holiday get-togethers in 2020. This joyous celebration provides an opportunity to begin a new tradition of incorporating compassion for all beings into food-centered gatherings.

Traditionally, of course, a roasted turkey is the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal, and many of the side dishes and desserts are loaded with products that are derived from animals — flesh, cream, cheese, eggs and fat. How about this year creating a lovely, delicious, healthful meal that excludes animal suffering, pain and exploitation?

This can be achieved by choosing to use plant-exclusive ingredients in our meals. With the plethora of vegan products available in the supermarkets today, a familiar Thanksgiving meal can be created simply by substituting vegan products for those from animals.

A traditional holiday meal, of course, also includes dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. All these can be enjoyed while observing a plant-exclusive diet.

In the broader vegan community, there are generally two camps: those who want a turkey taste-alike product for their Thanksgiving meal, and those who find any food mimicking an animal product to be offensive. Following are several substitution options as well as recipes to consider.

Main course: For a non-meat-but-turkey-like experience, options are Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast, Gardein Holiday Roast, Field Roast’s Hazelnut Cranberry or Celebration Roast, and a Tofurky Roast with Wild Rice Stuffing. For a non-turkey-like entree, consider preparing the recipes for a veggie loaf or stuffed winter squash.

Dressing: Cut dried bread into cubes and add onions, celery, fresh herbs (like sage, thyme, rosemary), salt and pepper. Add vegetable or no-chicken broth and melted plant butter.

Mashed Potatoes: Scrub the potatoes thoroughly (Yukon Gold potatoes provide a rich flavor), leaving on the skins. Cut into small pieces, cover with water (just to the top of the potatoes), add garlic cloves, if desired, cook until tender, and drain. Mash the potatoes with plant butter and salt; then add unsweetened plant milk to reach the desired consistency.

Gravy: Prepare with vegetable or “no-chicken” broth instead of meat drippings, thicken with flour or cornstarch, and add favorite herbs, salt and pepper.

Sweet Potatoes: A fresh, baked sweet potato is a nutrition powerhouse by itself, but if you wish to have a candied sweet potato dish (which is more actually a dessert), use plant butter, maple syrup and vegan marshmallows. (Many white sugar products are bleached by using animal bone char, and standard marshmallows contain gelatin, which is made from animal connective tissue and bones.)

Green Bean Casserole: This dish traditionally is made with canned cream of mushroom soup, which contains animal products. Making vegan mushroom sauce is easy, and its flavor is far superior to any canned product.

Cranberries: Jellied cranberry sauces contain gelatin. Instead, opt for whole cranberry sauce. (Check the ingredient list for contents.)

Pumpkin Pie: This dessert contains eggs, dairy-based milk, and is usually topped with whipped cream. Simply use JUST Egg® (or tofu) to replace poultry eggs and substitute plant cream. Top with vegan whipped topping (TruWhip®-Vegan) or a non-dairy frozen dessert (such as Trader Joe’s vanilla “ice cream”).

Disavowing the consumption of animal products does not mean eating “nuts, twigs and cardboard.” As you will see from the recipes below, you can have the best of all worlds — savor a delicious ThanksVegan meal, support optimal health, respect all beings, and decrease your impact on the environment.

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