This rice stuffed butternut squash is a decadent evening meal that looks very special, but is actually quite easy to do. The stuffing is filled with healthy ingredients and makes every slice look so pretty. A vegetarian and gluten free dish.
Butternut squash always feels like the cosy comfort food we need in the colder months. It has the advantage of happily sitting in the pantry for a while until we wish to use it, so I have a supply year-round to make my butternut squash and apple soup and hasselback butternut squash with brown butter.
And don't forget my gnocchi with butternut squash herb sauce for another comfort food dinner idea!
This vegetarian stuffed squash feels decadent with the gooey cheese, rice and herbs and has the best crunch from the nuts and seeds. Definitely one for a special occasion!
Why you'll love this recipe
- A show-stopper of a main dish. This vegetarian dish is a bit special, making it perfect for a Christmas dinner or holiday recipe, or a Sunday meal with friends and family.
- So pretty. Every slice looks special with the rice and vegetable filling.
- Simple recipe. This does have a bit more 'hands on' time, but it's quite simple, and the only fiddly bit is tying the string up!
The main ingredients of this rice stuffed butternut squash are:
- Butternut squash - a really versatile vegetable (although botanically a fruit!) that can be roasted, boiled or made into soup. Here though it works perfectly with the stuffing ingredients.
- Rice - you can use regular white rice or a wild rice mix.
- Red bell peppers - brimming with vitamin C, they add extra nutrients and flavour.
- Pistachio nuts - adds a good crunch and texture to the rice mix. Be sure to use unsalted and ones that aren't roasted such as the Fiddyment Farms unsalted pistachios.
- Pumpkin seeds - also for crunch, they go so well with the rice and bell peppers. I like to use an organic brand such as Terrasoul organic pumpkin seeds.
- Sweet paprika - one of my favourites spices, it has a sweet taste unlike hot or smoked paprika (neither of which are advised on a low histamine diet by the SIGHI list). Sweet paprika scores as low histamine though, and I use it so much. I like the Szgeged sweet paprika.
Personally I think a stuffed squash needs a dressing as it can be a touch dry otherwise. The creaminess of tahini goes perfectly with the squash in this recipe.
If you would like some more ideas on how to flavour tahini for other recipes then you may like to have a look at my tahini dressing post. If you like a more herby option, then my creamy tahini dill dressing would also be delicious!
Make sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients and their quantities!
Step by step instructions
Although it looks complicated, making this rice stuffed butternut squash is actually quite simple - and looks much impressive than the work involved! A few steps:
Slice the squash lengthways, and slice a small sliver off the bottom so the squash can sit flat on the tray. Remove the seeds. Score the squash, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until softened.
Cook the rice according to packet instructions. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add the bell pepper and herbs. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Then add in the rice, mozzarella, pistachios and pumpkin seeds and stir to combine.
Remove the squash from the oven, and once cooled enough to handle, scoop out the centre of the squash. Cut into ½ inch chunks (roughly) and add to the pan with the rice. Stir to combine and then spoon into the centre of the squash.
Place one of the halves of the squash onto the other and tie with kitchen string in a couple of places. Return to the oven and bake.
Make the tahini dressing while the squash is in the oven.
Tips for making the butternut squash stuffed with rice
1. Pick a butternut squash that is about medium size. Too small and it won't have much room for the stuffing, but too big and it will take a very long time to cook.
2. Try and cut the squash fairly evenly down its length so that it cooks at the same rate on both sides.
3. Be quite careful when scooping out the inside of the squash. Try not to slice through the skin as the filling will leak out.
4. Adjust the seasonings to preference. If you like a more herby taste then up the dried thyme and sage a little. Sage tends to be quite pungent so I would suggest using a slightly more delicate hand with that one!
Other than an oven(!) and some parchment paper, this recipe calls for some cooking string / twine. Don't make my mistake the first time I tried this and think it will hold together without it. You will end up with the filling everywhere. Simply tie the squash together to keep it secure. It may be easier to rope in a friend to help you with the string (get my pun? No? OK, I'll try harder next time . . . ).
How to serve
In some ways this butternut squash stuffed with rice is a complete meal, with vegetables, protein and carbohydrates all wrapped up in string! It's quite filling so I tend to have a salad or perhaps some of my honey rosemary roast vegetables on the side.
More butternut squash recipes
Such a versatile vegetable, there are so many recipes here on the site focusing on delicious butternut squash and other squashes, including my butternut squash apple soup and my quinoa stuffed gem squash. Some recent recipes to enjoy:
Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 2 teaspoon olive oil divided
- ½ cup rice cooked
- ½ red bell pepper sliced into small pieces
- ¼ white onion diced
- 1 garlic clove diced, optional
- ½ fresh mozzarella ball torn into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts crushed
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper optional
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 390F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Slice the squash lengthways, and slice a small sliver off the bottom so the squash can sit flat on the tray. Remove the seeds. Score the squash, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes until softened.
- While the squash is baking, cook your rice unless you have already done so.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into a pan and then add the onion and garlic. Fry on a low heat for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper and herbs. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Then add in the rice, mozzarella, pistachios and pumpkin seeds and stir to combine.
- Remove the squash from the oven, and once cooled enough to handle, scoop out the centre of the squash. Cut into ½ inch chunks (roughly) and add to the pan with the rice. Stir to combine and then spoon into the centre of the squash.
- Carefully(!) place one of the halves of the squash onto the other and tie with kitchen string in a couple of places. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
- While the squash is cooking make a simple tahini sauce by combining the tahini and water and stirring well until it forms a sauce. Sprinkle with a little sweet paprika.
- Plate up your squash, and drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Be careful when slicing the squash so that you don't pierce through the skin.
- Use kitchen string that is safe to be used in the oven.
- Be sure to use sweet paprika rather than hot or smoked paprika if you follow a low histamine diet.
- Use more herbs if you like a stronger flavour.
- Please note that nutritional information is offered as a courtesy. It is auto-generated and should be understood to be an estimate.
- garlic which scores 1. The SIGHI list states that it is usually well tolerated in small amounts after cooking.
- black pepper, which scores 2.
- sesame (for the tahini), which scores 1.