Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash with Za'atar and Tahini

 These za'atar roasted acorn squash halves filled with chard, pistachios and topped with a tahini drizzle make a gorgeous vegan main! 
chard stuffed acorn squash with za'atar and tahini

When I was a vegetarian back in middle and high school, it used to drive me nuts how people fretted over what to feed me for Thanksgiving. How about everything but turkey? I mean, everyone's favorite part of Thanksgiving are the sides, so what's the problem here? More room for stuffing, I say!

Now as an adult, I kind of get it. As a host, you want a nice centerpiece to serve. And parents probably don't want their child eating three plates of macaroni and cheese.
Za'atar stuffed acorn squash
I didn't create this recipe with Thanksgiving in mind, but as soon as I tasted one, I realized it would be perfect as a vegan Thanksgiving main. Za'atar and tahini certainly aren't traditional Thanksgiving flavors, they both work perfectly with the dish, adding a hint of spice and creaminess.
Let's talk about winter squash for a second. I love to take advantage of it when in season. Like tomatoes, there really is a huge taste difference between seasonal winter squash and what you find in the summer, which is watery and bland. Roasting is by far my favorite way of preparing them, as it helps caramelize the sugars and deepen their flavor - not to mention make your house smell incredible!
Vegan stuffed acorn squash with chard and pistachios
Vibrantly colored winter squash is a great source of vitamin A, and actually so is Swiss chard. Just one of these stuffed squashes has almost 200% your daily needs of the antioxidant vitamin. It is also a rich source of another potent antioxidant, vitamin C. Despite being a starchy food, winter squash is rich in fiber and other nutrients that regulate blood sugar. Another fun fact about winter squash - it contains a decent amount of omega 3 fats in the form of ALA, despite being a low fat food.
While I was teaching a class earlier this week, someone asked me what I thought the two most nutritious vegetables were. I quickly replied green leafies and orange starchy veggies like winter squash and sweet potatoes. It's hard to beat the sheer quantity and variety of nutrients they contain. So with that in mind, I suppose this is basically the healthiest dish ever!
Middle Eastern Stuffed Acorn Squash
Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash with Za'atar and Tahini
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Serves 4
These would also be good with a little feta cheese mixed in with the chard. A handful of currants would play off the sweet, spicy and savory flavors well too. Next time, I think I'll make it with kabocha squash, just because it's my favorite.
Ingredients
  • 2 small-medium acorn squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons[url href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0063J1RCM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0063J1RCM&linkCode=as2&tag=anavada-20&linkId=XWDFLNATUNGAFOIM"] za'atar[/url]
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bunch chard, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of za'atar on each. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven 45-55 minutes until tender.
  3. About halfway through the squash roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until very tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook 1 minute. Add chard and a couple tablespoons of water. Cover and cook, stirring every so often and adding a couple tablespoons of water as needed, about 10 minutes total, until chard is tender. Stir in pistachios and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice and cumin. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove squash from the oven and let cool slightly. Divide the chard mixture between the squash, patting it in to fit as much greens as possible. When ready to serve, drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle with more za'atar.