Mujaddara-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic Tahini Sauce

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our recipe writers put their heads together to create a vegetarian and gluten-free menu that even the most eager turkey-eaters will want to try. We suggest cauliflower and potato mash with homemade mushroom gravy, a festive kale salad with pomegranate seeds and pistachios, sweet and crispy brussels sprouts from Chef Neil O’Malley from Rose Water restaurant, and this month’s recipe: mujaddara-stuffed acorn squash.

Mujadarra, a simple rice and lentil pilaf, is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Every region has their own version. Some use red lentils, others brown. The grains can vary, too, with different types of rice or even bulgur. Caramelized onions on top offer a sweet contrast to the savory, earthy pilaf.

While the dish is perfect on its own, we thought it would be delicious with winter squash. Kabocha, honey nut and acorn squash are all great options, all available at the Co-op! Drizzle with a decadent, roasted garlic tahini sauce or mushroom gravy. This hearty vegetarian meal has it all—a complete protein, vitamin-rich winter squash, plus the sweet treat of fried onions. This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and makes for a perfect Thanksgiving entree or weeknight meal.

This dish amounts to 6-8 servings and costs about $1.75 per serving (based on Co-op prices).

Ingredients:

3 T olive oil

1 t salt

1 cup French lentils

2 cups brown basmati rice (or any type of brown rice will do)

5 cups water

2 T cumin

2 large onions, sliced thinly

1 t paprika

3 acorn squash

1 cloves garlic, unpeeled

For the tahini sauce:

½ cup tahini

juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp salt

½ tsp maple syrup

water as needed

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, bring water and one tablespoon of olive oil to a boil. Then add the lentils, rice, cumin and salt, and let it come back to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes.

  2. As the rice and lentils simmer, prepare the squash for roasting. Cut the stem and the base off, cutting off as little as possible—just enough to create a flat surface on both sides. Then, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. You can compost these or set them aside for roasting. Then coat the squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle the insides with salt.

  3. Place squash flat-side down on baking sheets. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves (which you’ll use in the tahini dressing) on the baking sheet with it, and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

  4. Next, fry the onions. Heat a frying pan or cast iron skillet on medium. Add ¼ cup oil and the sliced onions, and sauté for 20 minutes or until the onions are soft and browned to your liking. During the last few minutes, mix in the paprika.

  5. Remove the pot of rice and lentils from the stove and fluff with a fork. Place cover back on until you’re ready to serve. When the squash is soft and tender, take it out of the oven and set aside to cool.

  6. Peel roasted garlic cloves and scrape out the soft insides for the tahini dressing. Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and roasted garlic. When the dressing becomes very thick, add water one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Fill each squash half with the rice and lentils, and top with caramelized onions. Serve with tahini dressing, and sprinkle with fresh parsley for a seasonal and delicious vegan main course!