The Washington Post

Lentil and Pecan-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Lentil and Pecan-Stuffed Acorn Squash 6.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Nov 14, 2021

Stuffing pumpkins or other winter squash is a classic vegetarian approach to Thanksgiving. This one is just rich enough, thanks to a generous amount of sage-infused brown butter, but orange juice keeps it bright-tasting and not too heavy. Serve one squash half per guest as a main course, or cut each in half again for a hearty side dish.

Active time: 45 mins; Total time: 1 hour 20 mins

Make Ahead: The brown butter can be made in advance and refrigerated for several weeks. The fried sage leaves can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. The roasted squash halves can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before stuffing and finishing the dish. The entire thing can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months before finishing in the oven. (If frozen, defrost before baking.)

Storage Notes: The dish can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • For the sage brown butter
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons/4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • Fine sea or table salt
  • For the stuffed squash
  • 3 acorn squash (about 1 pound each; may substitute carnival, sweet dumpling or kabocha)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or another neutral oil
  • 1 small onion (4 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine or hard cider
  • 1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) lentils, any color except red
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup packed) freshly grated parmesan cheese


Make the sage brown butter: Line a large plate with a clean dish towel. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sage leaves and fry until dark green and no longer bubbling, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, lift the sage from the butter and transfer to drain on the dish towel. Sprinkle the leaves with salt. Scrape the butter, including the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, into a large bowl.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Make the stuffed squash: Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. Discard the pulp, and save the seeds for roasting, if desired. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on an large, ungreased, rimmed baking sheet or cast-iron skillet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tender.

While the squash is baking, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add the lentils and cook, stirring, until coated in the onion mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the water, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat until the liquid is gently simmering and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven but leave the heat on. Let the squash cool until you can handle it easily. Use a spoon to scoop most of the flesh from the squash into the bowl with the brown butter, leaving a thin layer of squash flesh next to the skin so the squash shell stays intact.

Add the cooked lentil mixture, pecans, orange juice and zest to the squash pulp, and mix until well-blended. Taste, and season with more salt, if needed.

Scoop the squash mixture into the squash shells, sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until warm throughout. If desired, turn the oven to broil to lightly brown the cheese, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Garnish with the fried sage and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes” by Abra Berens (Chronicle Books, 2021).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (a stuffed squash half): 501

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 28g 43%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 50mg 17%

Sodium: 288mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 45g 15%

Dietary Fiber: 15g 60%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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