This post has been updated.

Turkey is usually an afterthought — if that — in my Thanksgiving planning. I’m a vegetarian married to a poultry lover, and we typically host a table of guests with similarly different dietary habits. For the past few years, because I wanted to satisfy the carnivores’ expectations while saving myself the hassle of dealing with the bird, I’ve outsourced it, ordering a smoked turkey from a D.C. barbecue joint and asking somebody else to pick it up.

Then, I was free to spend my energy where I wanted it: on a bounty of vegetable dishes, dressing and multiple pies.

This year, with just my husband and me at the table, I’m after something even easier — and more veg-focused. So I came up with a sheet-pan dinner that features one of my favorite winter squash varieties, delicata, stuffed with a Persian-inspired combination of rice, dried fruit and nuts, perfumed with saffron. Cinnamon-dusted carrots roast alongside the squash, adding even more fall aromas to the kitchen, and broccolini goes on for the last few minutes so that it stays green and crisp.

If my husband wants turkey again this year, I plan to just text him instructions for making a breast in the Instant Pot.

Even though this recipe is designed for Thanksgiving, it would truly be suitable for any fall or winter night. The key to the stuffing is using already cooked rice, which you can certainly make yourself, or buy in shelf-stable packages or frozen. (If using frozen, thaw and thoroughly drain it first.)

And because every Thanksgiving meal is really about the leftovers, here’s my favorite thing to do with these: Turn any leftover squash and stuffing into a soup. Just scrape out the stuffing, combine the squash (don’t even bother peeling it) and water or vegetable stock in a blender, and blend until smooth, adding more liquid to achieve your preferred consistency. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat, and season to taste. Warm the stuffing briefly in the microwave and spoon it into the soup when you serve.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.


  • 2 delicata squash (2 1/4 pounds total), halved lengthwise (may substitute butternut or acorn)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice (see headnote; may substitute brown rice or another cooked grain of your choice)
  • 1 cup cooked or no-salt-added canned lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) dried cherries (preferably tart)
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 8 ounces skinny carrots (4 to 5), scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 ounces (2 small bunches) broccolini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Scoop out and discard (or reserve for roasting) the seeds from the squash. Rub the squash all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season the cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Step 2

In a large bowl, combine the rice, lentils, pistachios, orange juice, apricots, cherries, parsley, garlic, saffron water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and a generous amount of pepper and stir to combine.

Step 3

Arrange the squash on a large rimmed baking sheet, leaving as much space among the halves as possible. Spoon the rice mixture into the squash cavities, mounding it as needed. Arrange the carrots among the squash, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with the cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.

Step 4

Cover the baking sheet tightly with foil. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the squash is just tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the foil and push the squash and carrots together in the center of the pan. In a large bowl, toss the broccolini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Scatter it around the pan.

Step 5

Continue to roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender, the stuffing has lightly browned and the broccolini stem pieces are crisp-tender. Transfer to a serving platter, if desired, and drizzle with more olive oil on top. Garnish with the parsley and pomegranate seeds, if using, and serve warm.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 372; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 558 mg; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 15 g; Protein: 7 g.

Loosely based on a recipe in “Lucid Food” by Louisa Shafia (Ten Speed Press, 2009).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to

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