I know I've said it before but fall is simply the most inspirational time to be in the kitchen. Our bodies love to be nourished with the seasons offerings - spring and summer keep us craving raw, simple, fresh foods (think smoothies, watermelon, salads) but fall and winter inspire warming, cooked dishes (squash, stews and sauces). I am so grateful to have moved to Northern California earlier this year so that I can be back in a climate that allows me to actually experience the seasons - although I know others might disagree I felt totally out of wack in the year round Los Angeles sunshine and heat. There's something so spiritual about seasons, their distinctions leave me feeling much more connected to nature, to the passage of time and to myself.
Getting back to the recipe - this roasted and stuffed acorn squash is also spiritual - perfect for the coming holiday season and it's honestly one of the recipes I am most proud of.
Now, this recipe admittedly takes a bit longer than most of the dishes I create. I am not ashamed to admit that I acquired a good 80% of my cooking knowledge watching Rachael Ray's '30 Minute Meals' (love you Rachael) as a kid so most of my food is quick to prepare and has a somewhat simple list of ingredients. But when it comes to festive, holiday food I don't mind spending a little more time in the kitchen - I think Rachael is cool with that - and I hope you don't mind either. Put on some Frank Sinatra, light a dang candle and get cooking!
This recipe works on it's own as a light yet hearty dinner or as an impressively beautiful side dish for a holiday feast. The sweet roasted squash makes the perfect vessel for a hot bulgur wheat salad that includes warming spices, golden caramelized onions, ribbons of kale, creamy white beans, tart and sweet pomegranate seeds and a savory tahini dressing that truly brings it all together. I love this salad because, while you can totally make it your own (suggestions below), the balance of flavors in this original recipe is just so seasonal both in color and in flavor complexity. Not to mention this recipe is vegan and uses almost exclusively foods in their whole form so this meal will leave you feeling nourished and happy over the holidays.
P.S- You could, and totally should, make this bulgur salad on it's own as an amazing side dish!
Try my vegan stuffed, roasted acorn squash this season and let me know how you - and your friends - like it!
Serves: 4 • Prep Time: 60 minutes (some inactive time included)
Roasted Acorn Squash
- 2 medium acorn squash, halved
- 4 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- Cracked black pepper to taste
Bulgur Wheat Kale and Pomegranate Stuffing/Filling
- 3/4 cup of bulgur wheat + 3/4 cup hot water
- 1/2 large onion, diced small
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups kale, finely chopped
- 1/2 a 16 oz. can of low sodium white beans
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tsp. pumpkin spice
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Pumpkin seeds and more pomegranate seeds for garnish
Other yummy possibilities/variations:
- Add in mushrooms of any kind
- Sub pomegranate seeds for dried cherries or cranberries
- Add in fresh corn, peas, carrots, zuchinni
- Sub bulgur for brown rice or quinoa
- 4 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1. Preheat your oven to 425* F and prepare your acorn squash by splitting it in half length wise and scooping out the seeds. Place in a roasting pan, inside facing up.
2. Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup til runny and drizzle the mixture onto each half and rub into the flesh. Season with pepper and place in the oven to roast for 50-55 minutes or until the inside is soft and slightly caramelized.
NOTE: You can save the seeds and roast them for garnish - just put them in the over with a little bit of cooking spray, salt and pepper for 5-10 minutes but keep an eye on them. I would like to say I did this myself but I totally burnt them and did not reattempt, whoops.
3. While the acorn squash is roasting, add your bulgur and hot water to a bowl and cover for 30 minutes - you'll know its ready wen all the water is absorbed and the wheat will be slightly soft and chewy. In this time you could also prep the pomegranate - because unless you bought the seeds on their own, it takes a while (and some patience) to seed a pomogrante.
4. Add diced onion and garlic to a pan with a little bit of water and cook on high stirring every so often allowing the aromatics to get golden brown and caramelized. This should take about 5-8 minutes and you may need to add a bit more water to avoid burning.
5. Once the onion and garlic are soft and golden brown, add in the rosemary and kale and a bit more water - toss until the kale is wilted down by half and all the water has evaporated.
6. Add in the beans, the bulgur and the rest of your seasonings - pumpkin spice, cumin, onion powder, pepper. Cook for a few minutes to let the flavors combine.
7. Turn off the heat and add in the pomegranate seeds and 3/4 of the tahini dressing (which is simply made by whisking all ingredients together in the bowl). Toss to fully coat - you may need to add a bit of extra water here to help things loosen up.
8. Remove your acorn squash from the oven and fill the cavity generously with the bulgur stuffing. Top with the rest of the dressing, pepper, more pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds or even the roasted acorn squash seeds (if you don't burn them). Serve hot!