Autumnal Stuffed Acorn Squash
November 13, 2020
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

This recipe celebrates the bounty of fall, utilizing acorn squash as the perfect vehicle for a hearty brown rice filling stacked with nutty, sweet and savory flavors that’ll have you coming back for seconds. Acorn squash is rich in fiber, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, and its thin skin lets you skip peeling for a quicker prep time. Brown rice is a hearty and filling whole grain that boosts satiety with protein and fiber, and can aid in lowering cholesterol naturally. You can serve this recipe as a weeknight vegetarian supper with a mixed green salad, or double it for a healthy side to serve on your Thanksgiving or harvest celebration table. 

Serves: 4 as a side or 2 as a main course

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half along the stem line and seeded
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (substitute any grain you prefer—quinoa, farro or white ricealso work well)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • ½ cup pine nuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons ground parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup parsley
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)


Autumnal stuffed acorn squash

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, drizzle the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and arrange it cut side down. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is pierced easily with a knife. 
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, combine the brown rice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, apple, cranberries, pine nuts, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, ¼ cup parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine, and cook until warmed through. 
  3. Fill the inside of each squash with the rice filling, heaping it a bit on top. Put back in the oven for 10 minutes until the top is slightly burnished. 
  4. While the squash finishes in the oven, make the pesto. In a blender, add the parsley, sage, garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding a splash of cold water if needed to smooth it out. 
  5. To serve, drizzle the pesto over the squash, sprinkle with chopped parsley and enjoy!

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About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: