Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice, Pecan, and Cranberry Stuffing Recipe

Sweet squash with a hearty filling accented by tart cranberries and salty cheese.

Several baked acorn squashes filled with a wild rice stuffing, set on a serving platter.

Serious Eats / Lauren Rothman

Why It Works

  • A 1:1 ratio of wild rice to white rice results in a balanced, flavorful filling.
  • Toasting the pecans intensifies their flavor.
  • Tart dried cranberries and salty ricotta salata provide a punchy contrast to the toasty pecans, sweet squash, and nutty earthiness of wild rice.

I spent several years as a graduate student, and anyone who's ever shared my plight knows that when things get busy at school, certain aspects of life start to fall by the wayside—you know, like showering and conversing with relatives and eating food that isn't pita bread dipped in hummus.

I remember being snowed in under deadlines and not really paying attention to my meals, subsisting on cereal and milk and the occasional free slices of pizza my school provides at events they really want students to attend. When I did finally have the time to cook myself a proper meal, I was met with the sight of a depressingly empty fridge (I hardly ever had the time to go shopping).

This was not the normal, organized me: in my pre-graduate school life, I got lots of pleasure form planning my meals and shopping for them. I had to adjust the way I cooked, whenever I actually had the time to do so. I had to make big meals that keep well to eat throughout the week.

This recipe for stuffed squash fit the bill. Sweet, creamy acorn squash is filled with a wild rice mixture accented with toasty pecans and tart chewy cranberries, with some salty ricotta salata cheese folded in for contrast. One squash makes a hearty, filling meal that can be easily consumed in front of a computer screen. But don't worry: if you're a normal person, it tastes just as good eaten at a dinner table in the company of friends or family.

March 2013

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 105 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 4 small acorn squash

  • 1/2 cup wild rice, boiled in 2 cups water for 30 minutes, then drained

  • 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice (1/2 cup raw rice)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/2 cup grated ricotta salata cheese

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

  2. Remove seeds from acorn squash: using a sharp chef's knife, trim away a small flat slice from the bottom of each squash so it sits flat. Then, cut off the top 1/2 inch of each squash, exposing the seeds. Use a tablespoon to scrape out seeds and fibers. Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet, season lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle each squash with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from oven.

  3. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion sweats but does not brown, about 4 minutes. Add cooked wild rice and cooked white rice to the skillet and stir to combine. Add chopped pecans, dried cranberries and ricotta salata and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Wild rice stuffing being stirred in a cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon.

    Serious Eats / Lauren Rothman

  4. Stuff each acorn squash with about 1/4 of stuffing mixture, packing stuffing into squash cavity and mounding it slightly. Drizzle each squash with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and bake until squash is tender and stuffing browns slightly, about 40 minutes.

Special Equipment

Cast iron skillet, rimmed baking sheet

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
481 Calories
18g Fat
77g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 481
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 599mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 13g 45%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 25mg 126%
Calcium 202mg 16%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 1106mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)