Winter squash season is my favorite season of all. The vibrant, sun-colored flesh, along with the greens, blues, yellows, and oranges of the skin provide a much-needed color boost when the nights are long and daylight is in short supply.
The unsung hero of my dinner table is the small-statured delicata squash. Delicata are usually about the size of a large russet potato. This makes half a squash a perfect side dish for dinner, and a whole stuffed squash a filling main meal.
Ingredients for This Stuffed Squash Recipe
For this recipe, I’ve stuffed delicata with a savory combination of mushrooms, onions, pancetta, grape tomatoes, and rice.
I’ve added an extra flavor boost by including a layer of chevre, a tangy goat cheese, halfway through the stuffing, and topping the whole thing with toasted bread crumbs.
I love the rich, creamy, crunchy textures in this dish.
Can You Eat the Skin on Delicata Squash?
The yellow and green striped skin is edible, beautiful, and delicious (if I do say so myself) so there is no need to try to scrape the flesh from the skin before eating. It is thinner than the skin on other squashes, too.
Make the Filling Ahead of Time
You can easily make this stuffed squash recipe in stages. Make the filling 24 hours before you want to serve it. Then roast, stuff, and warm the filled squash when you're ready to serve.
If you really want to plan ahead, make the filling on the weekend and freeze it for up to three months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for a day then roast and stuff the squash as instructed below.
Any leftover stuffed squash halves are also great reheated in the oven or microwave the next day for lunch. (Though if you reheat in the microwave, the breadcrumbs won't be crispy.)
Ways to Adapt This Recipe
Stuffed squash can be adapted to your own tastes as well. Use the filling to stuff a different kind of squash, like acorn or butternut, or even summer squash when it's in season. You can also stuff a completely different vegetable, like bell peppers, or eat the filling on its own. Anything goes!
I love the light, airy texture and slightly floral flavor of basmati rice, but if you don't have it, feel free to use any other rice or grain you have on hand.
How to Make This Recipe Vegetarian
Although this recipe isn’t vegetarian as designed, you could easily leave the pancetta out altogether and replace the fat rendered from the pancetta with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
More Favorite Squash Recipes!
Stuffed Delicata Squash with Pancetta and Goat Cheese
- 4 small delicata squash
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced small
- 8 ounces portabella mushrooms, diced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cracked pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and packed
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
- For the breadcrumb topping:
- 1/2 cup Panko
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- For the rice:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Roast the squash:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scrub the outside of the squash to get rid of any dirt. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Brush the outside and inside of the squash halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to a baking sheet.
Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. When it’s ready, you should be able to easily pierce the flesh with a fork. Start checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the squash roasts, prepare the bread crumb topping and filling.
Make the breadcrumb topping:
Combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, thyme, and oil in a small bowl. Stir well with a fork to make sure everything is coated. Set aside.
Make the rice:
Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and toast, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. The rice should look golden.
Add water, butter, bay leaf, and salt to the pot. Cover, and bring to a low boil, still over medium heat for about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, but keep covered, and let it steam while you finish making the rest of the meal.
Cook the pancetta:
In a medium sauté pan, cook the pancetta over medium to medium-low heat, for about 20 minutes. The goal is to render the fat.
When crispy, scoop out pancetta and set aside. You will add it back to the filling later. There should be about 2 tablespoons of fat in your pan.
Cook the veggies:
To the pan with the rendered fat, add mushrooms, onion, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and chopped fennel seeds.
Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring once or twice until the mushrooms have shrunk and the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes and rice to the veggies:
Add the cherry tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir to coat. Continue cooking until the tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the cooked rice, cooked pancetta bits, and chopped parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Remove from the heat.
Stuff the squash:
Fill each half of squash halfway with the rice-veggie filling, using about 1/4 cup in each half. Crumble the chevre and sprinkle evenly over each half.
Spoon the rest of the filling on top of the chevre. Sprinkle each half with Panko mixture.
Broil the filled squashes:
Turn the oven to broil. Put the squash under the broiler for 1 to 3 minutes until the filling is warmed through and the Panko is a deep golden brown.