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4.59 from 17 votes

Vegetarian Biryani Stuffed Winter Squash

Please enjoy our spin on this Indian-inspired vegetarian biryani stuffed winter squash recipe. It is hearty, healthy, and bursting with savory flavors - with the perfect hint of sweetness. It's also easy to customize, or make fully vegan!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: biryani stuffed squash, rice stuffed winter squash, stuffed acorn squash, vegetarian biryani
Servings: 4 stuffed squash halves

Equipment

  • Saucepan or small stock pot
  • Roasting pan

Ingredients

  • 2 hard winter squash of choice (with a good size "bowl") such as Acorn squash, Delicata, Kabocha, or sugar pie pumpkins

Cooked Vegetables

  • 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 medium to large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 whole carrots (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, cut into smaller than bite-size pieces
  • 4-5 leaves large kale leaves (or a small bunch) de-stemmed and chopped. About 1/2 to 2/3 packed cup after prepping.
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (up to a full 15-16 ounce can)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (heaping)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice (brown or white)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (regular or low sodium - salt the veggies less if using full-sodium)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (1/2 Tbsp if using fresh grated turmeric)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (sub with 1/2 tsp powder)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder, if you prefer your biryani with some heat (optional, we skip this)

Extra fixings

  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries or golden raisins)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped nuts (cashews, almonds or walnuts - sub with pumpkin seeds for those with tree nut allergies)
  • 4-5 ounces crumbled feta cheese (not traditional to biryani, but delicious!)  
  • chopped fresh cilantro, to sprinkle on top at the time of serving
  • plain yogurt, add a dollop at the time of serving

Instructions

Cook Veggies

  • Heat a large saucepan or small stock pot over medium high heat. Add butter or oil long with diced onion, and cook until translucent and softened.
  • Next, add the chopped carrots and cauliflower with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook these for about 7-10 minutes (stirring occasionally) until the carrots and cauliflower become slightly tender when poked with a fork, but not overly soft.
  • Now, add in the called-for grated ginger, minced garlic, garam masala, chopped kale, and cooked chickpeas. Stir and cook for another few minutes, until the kale wilts nicely.
  • Remove the cooked veggies and place them in a separate bowl, but don’t wash or rinse the pan.

Cook Rice

  • Into the same (hot) pot, add a bit more oil or butter to the bottom and then toss in the raw dry rice along with the called-for minced garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric powder, cinnamon and bay leaves.
  • Stir well and cook over a medium-high heat for just a minute or two, and then add the vegetable broth.
  • Bring everything to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook the rice to completion. (Follow the instructions on your package of rice for cooking time).

Roast Squash (while rice is cooking)

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F
  • While rice is cooking, prep and roast the acorn squash (or other hard winter squash of choice). Start by carefully cutting the winter squash (or two) in half, and then scoop out the guts and seeds.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on the flesh side of each squash half.
  • Add the squash halves to a roasting pan.
  • You can roast them face-down for a quicker cooking time and more moisture, or flesh-side up for a nice caramelization. If you do the latter, add a small drizzle of olive oil or pad of butter across the squash surface. You can also pour a small amount of water (about a quarter inch) to the bottom of your roasting pan to add moisture and steam to the oven and help cook the squash.
  • Roast the squash until it is tender when you poke it with a fork (30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type, size and thickness of your squash.) Do not overcook. It should be just about done and suitable to eat here, but not mushy.

Mix, Stuff & Finish Roasting

  • Once the rice has finished cooking, combine the rice with the reserved veggies. Then add the called-for dried fruit, nuts, and optional feta cheese.
  • Spoon the biryani rice into the cavity/bowl of each roasted squash (generously pack them).
  • Return the now-stuffed squash to the oven for a final 10 to 15 minutes, until everything is fully cooked and hot.

Serve and Enjoy! 

  • I highly recommend serving your finished biryani stuffed squash with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and dollop of plain yogurt.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container and use within 5 days.