Looking for a delicious vegetarian side dish for the holidays? You gotta try my easy Thanksgiving Stuffed Acorn Squash made with farro, chickpeas, kale and cranberries!Gosh, I really can’t believe I’m posting a Thanksgiving recipe right now and that it’s only two weeks away! Does anyone else feel like you blinked and 2017 was basically over?
This time of year is always difficult for me. Not the holidays but the transition to fall that feels like winter. What I’ve learned about myself (or rather come to terms with and accepted) over the last couple years is that I’m a deeply sensing person and thus I feel everything deeply, including seasonal transitions. I usually notice a spike in my anxiety around October/November as the days are getting shorter and I’m spending less time outdoors and more time inside. As someone who thrives on and finds grounding in being in nature and sunshine, it’s difficult to grieve that loss and accept the desire to hibernate under blankets and not leave the house.
I see this in my private practice clients too – this spike in anxiety and depression this time of year. And often they point to food or their relationship with food as being the issue. And certainly that’s part of it. But I think it’s also important to acknowledge the transition that’s around us. I’m a big fan of the work of Sheryl Paul and she recently published a blog post that talked about how the Christmas decorations and holiday hoopla come on full force the day after Halloween because we need a distraction. We have trouble sitting with the sadness that comes along with the onset of fall and winter. We have trouble finding stillness and being with ourselves during this time of hibernation and so we distract with the holiday frenzy. If this is resonating with you, I invite you to experiment with what it would be like to slow down this time of year. To embrace the grief and sadness rather than trying to brush it under the holiday rug. Might you take time to meditate? To take a yin/restorative yoga class? To journal? To spend time baking and cooking hearty, grounding recipes like the one I’m sharing today? I LOVE this recipe. I ate it for dinner last night and if Thanksgiving had a taste, this recipe would be it. I took my first bite and felt like I was eating Thanksgiving (as if you could eat a holiday). The fresh herbs reminiscent of the holiday like thyme and rosemary add a delicious savory component, which is contrasted so nicely with the sweet acorn squash and sweet/tart cranberries. I found myself just eating the stuffing by the spoonful too because it was that good. I could see the stuffing being really delicious repurposed over some greens for a hearty fall salad. I added parmesan cheese for a little extra dose of savory, umami flavor but if you’re vegan, you can totally leave that out or add some NOOCH instead. Make this for your vegetarian guests for Thanksgiving or add a little leftover turkey the day after if you wish. Either way, this is packed with flavor and plant-based protein thanks to the chickpeas!
- 4 acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoona olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2/3 cup farro
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup diced onion (approximately ½ medium onion)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place squash cut side down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- Add farro and vegetable stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until farro is chewy but no longer tough. Drain excess liquid.
- In a large sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and let cook for another minute. Stir in kale and add 2 tablespoons water and cover for 4-5 minutes, or until wilted. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cooked farro and chickpeas. Remove from heat. Add in thyme, rosemary, pecans and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Fill each squash with about 1/2 cup farro mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until filling is heated through.
For more Thanksgiving inspiration, check out my recipes below!