The Main Attraction: Vegan Feast Alternative
Nothing truly replaces a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But these days there are plenty of options that deliver all the fall feels for vegans and people trying to adopt a more plant-based. But for a lot of us out there, it’s also important for dishes to be grain-free and paleo. Which is pretty tricky for a Thanksgiving feast. Enter this baked delicata squash with paleo stuffing.
One part squash, one part flavorful paleo stuffing, without any gluten, grains, dairy, or carbs. The stuffing itself is also low-carb and keto-friendly.
Top it off with vegan gluten-free gravy, and now you’re really in business. It also works as a hearty side dish, and the stuffing can stand alone as a delicious paleo alternative to stuffing.
The stuffing can even be a dish in its own right. I’m honestly kind of obsessed with this cauliflower rice, mushroom, and leek version of paleo stuffing infused with herbs. Delicious.
Thanksgiving dinner and holiday feasts are already complicated enough, I wanted something that would come together relatively quickly. The squash does require an oven, but the stuffing can be made in advance and cooks up in one pan in about 10 minutes. Boom.
And seriously the flavors are just so satisfying. I adore herbs like rosemary, sage, and tarragon, and they pair so well with the earthiness of the mushrooms and the aromatic leeks.
Paired with the hearty sweetness of the squash, it creates a tantalizing blend of satisfying flavors..
Delicata Squash: The Cheerful Holiday Guest
I don’t cook often with delicata squash, but it’s so darn cute and cheerful that it makes a great addition to a holiday feast. It’s the cute and dainty member of the squash family. It’s smaller, tending to weigh less than a pound, oblong, and has yellow and green stripes accented with orange running down the sides.
The skin is thin and actually edible. Not everyone loves to eat the skin, but it adds that visual appeal to your holiday plate. It tends to be a tad bit on the dry side, which is why I bake it with oil and top it with stuffing and gravy.
Delicata Squash Health Benefits
Delicata squash is rich in fiber and provides a healthy dose of iron, which is crucial for healthy cell production. It also provides a solid dose of calcium, so there’s no need to worry about nixing the dairy and missing out on this key nutrient for bone health.
Like other orange and yellow-hued foods, delicata squash provides a nice dose of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, which are both crucial for immunity. Vitamin A is also essential for eye health.
Paleo Stuffed Baked Delicata Squash
A vegan, paleo main or hearty side dish for the holiday table
- 2 delicata squash
- 1+1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil coconut oil works well
- 2 cups cauliflower rice *may purchase or make by pulsing a head of chopped cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms I use cremini or button
- 1/2 cup chopped leeks
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, de-sprigged
- 1 sprig fresh sage, chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, de-sprigged
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450. Cut the squashes in half from top to bottom and coat with olive oil. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
While the squash is baking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower rice, mushrooms, leeks, and fresh herbs and sautée about 8-10 minutes, until thoroughly soft and slightly browned.
Add the apple cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
When the squash is ready, remove from the oven, stuff with the stuffing, and serve.
Serving size: about 1/2 squash per person. Stuffed, this alone makes for a meal for most. As a side, cut into quarters.
The stuffing may be made in advance and added about 10-15 minutes before the squash is finished.
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