Last year was my family’s 3rd annual vegan Thanksgiving. Each year we try a new dish or two and also make some family favorites. The sides are never an issue, but deciding on a main dish has had me stumped. We are definitely NOT fake turkey people, and since my husband can’t eat any gluten we are not able to consider anything with seitan or any pot pie type dishes. My goal with the main dish, and the whole meal for that matter,is to present food that is festive,which highlights the flavors of autumn and celebrates the bounty of the harvest season. Last year I stuffed two kabocha squashes with a mixture of quinoa, wild rice and lentils, with leeks and mushrooms. It was delicious and festive and we are making it again this year.

Start by cooking the pumpkin.Cut the top out the way you would if you were making a Jack-O-Lantern. Scoop out the seeds and rub the inside with olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a smashed garlic clove. Place the squash in a large roasting pan with about 1/2 inch water in the bottom and cover with foil. Bake 375 for about 45 min or until it can be pierced with a fork.

The filling (enough to fill 2 kabocha squashes or small pumpkins):

  • Cook 1/2 c wild rice in 1½ cups water.
  • In a separate pot cook 1/2 c quinoa in 1 cup water or broth.
  • In a separate pot cook 1/2 c French lentils (black beluga lentils can be substituted) in 1½ cups water or broth, until tender.Drain any extra liquid.
  • In 1-2 Tbsp olive oil saute 1 cup thinly sliced leek (or onion), 1 stalk chopped celery, 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms, 1 clove minced garlic, and 2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage until vegetables are softened.
  • Toast 2 Tbsp pine nuts (or more if you love them and can afford them at about $16/lb).
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cooked wild rice, cooked lentils, sauteed vegetables and toasted pine nuts.

Stuffed squash sliced for serving

Stuff this mixture into the baked kabocha shell, place in a roasting pan,cover with foil so it doesn’t burn, and bake 1/2 hour or longer. Bake with the squash top NEXT to the shell, not on top….the squash will change shape as it bakes and you may lose your top inside the pumpkin. Any extra stuffing can be baked in a separate dish.