This freekeh-stuffed acorn makes a festive side dish. It’s perfect for a nourishing Sunday evening family dinner or as a side dish on the Thanksgiving table.
Have you tried cooking with freekeh yet? Not only is this ancient Middle Eastern grain fun to say (“freek-ah”), it has a delicious, nutty taste and really packs in the nutrients.
Freekeh is wheat that is harvested when young and still green and then roasted and cracked, similar to bulgur. It’s very high in fiber and a good source of protein and iron. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand, which per 1/4 cup dry serving has:
- 170 calories
- 7 grams of protein
- 8 grams of fiber
- 10% of iron needs
I am actually a freekeh newbie–as much as I love cooking with a variety of whole grains, I admit it’s often easier to stick to what you know. But I had bought a package of freekeh several months ago and it was still sitting patiently in my pantry. So when I decided to make stuffed acorn squash, I knew exactly what grain I wanted to use.
You could also use butternut squash for this recipe, but I just love the look of the acorn squash and I happened to get it in my farm share 2 weeks in a row.
This recipe basically has 3 parts, which are included in the recipe below, but if you get overwhelmed by a long list of steps (like I do) this is how it breaks down:
- Prepare the freekeh according to package directions. I cooked it in veggie stock for added flavor.
- Pre-cook the acorn squash: Simply brush the halved and deseeded squash with olive oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- Saute veggies and then combine with the freekeh. Stuff the squash and roast for another 10-20 minutes. (Additional cooking is not necessary but good if you want it hot or are preparing ahead of time and then want to heat it up).
This recipe was inspired by a recipe in my Moosewood cookbook. The author, longtime vegetarian guru Mollie Katzen, offers a few different variations for stuffed squash, all delicious. Like any recipe, once you have made it a couple of times, you develop a sense for how you can adapt it to the ingredients you have on hand, your dietary needs, and your own preferences. So I hope you will do just that, use this recipe to guide to inspire your own stuffed squash!
- 2½ cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 cup freekeh
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 celery, finely chopped
- 1 apple, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ cup minced walnuts
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium pot, bring stock (or water) to a boil. Add the freekeh, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush with half of the olive oil and roast, face down for 25-30 minutes, until soft.
- While freekeh is cooking and squash is roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and apple and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, walnuts, and sunflower seeds and saute for another couple of minutes. Then add the baby spinach and saute until just wilted.
- Add the cooked freekeh and the sauteed veggies to a large bowl and combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Divide mixture into the halved, pre-cooked acorn squash. Serve as is, or, if serving later, heat up for 10-25 minutes just before serving.