When it comes to the holidays, I always appreciate a hearty and meaty main dish that is meat-free (obviously). It’s a great way to show your family and friends that vegan recipes can be incredibly satisfying and don’t require your tastebuds to sacrifice anything. Which is why I’m sharing Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash!
It’s hearty and creamy and packed with so much flavor, but it’s completely vegan, gluten-free, and won’t weigh you down. The lentil filling is rich, creamy, and packed with such incredible flavor (sticky browned onions, lots of garlic and fresh herbs, red wine, tahini, and balsamic vinegar).
The filling honestly tastes meaty, which is crazy because there’s no meat or meat substitute in it. My partner said this recipe gets a 10 out 10 on the “umami meter.” The trio of ingredients at the end—tahini, miso, and balsamic vinegar—bring so much flavor to this dish so please don’t skip them!
The tahini brings creaminess and nuttiness, the miso brings a punch of savory richness, and the balsamic vinegar bring a slightly sweet and tangy bite.
How to Make Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash
First, slice your butternut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and gunk, then transfer the squash halves to a large baking sheet, cut side up. Brush each squash half with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the squash at 425°F for 45-50 minutes until fork tender and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, make the creamy lentil filling. Dice the onions and chop the garlic, rosemary, and sage. Heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan and add the diced onions. Cook 8-9 minutes until browned. Then add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the red wine.
Pour in the vegetable broth, lentils, paprika, and bay leaf.
Simmer the lentils for about 30 minutes, or until al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed. Finally, stir in the tahini, miso, and balsamic vinegar. Add salt to taste.
When the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out most of the flesh from each half, but leave a border around the sides and bottom and don’t scoop too deeply.Add the lentil filling into each squash cavity. Bake at 350F° for 15 minutes until warmed through.
Make the butternut-tahini sauce. In a food processor, blend together 1 cup of the scooped out squash flesh, tahini, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth, then pour over the squash when ready to serve.
Tips for making Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash
When you scoop the flesh out of the roasted butternut squash, be gentle so that you don’t scoop too deeply or forcefully, or you’ll cut through the skin of the flesh.
If used rosemary and sage in this recipe, but you can use any combination of sturdy woodsy herb, including thyme and oregano.
How to make this recipe ahead of time: Make the lentil filling a day or two in advance, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Roast the squash halves a day or two in advance, and store tightly covered or in an airtight container in the fridge. Make the butternut-tahini sauce the same day you roast the squash. On the day of serving, stuff the squash and bake in the oven for just 15 minutes!
Looking for more vegan holiday side dishes?
- Mashed Potatoes: fluffy yet creamy mashed potatoes just like you love, but vegan
- Scalloped Potatoes: Outrageously good cheesy, creamy pillows that melt in your mouth
- Vegan Gravy: A deeply savory and boldly flavored mushroom gravy
- Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese: cheesy, creamy, and crispy (and more nourishing than you’d expect!)
- Wild Mushroom Stuffing: an umami-rich spin on the classic stuffing
- Pumpkin Stuffed Shells: cheesy, chewy, garlicky, and creamy!
- Vegan Cornbread: crispy-crusted and buttery and practically melts in your mouth!
- 3 medium butternut squash
- Regular olive oil or avocado oil for roasting
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Creamy Lentil Filling
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (you will need more oil if not using a nonstick pan)
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) dry red wine (such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Syrah, or Malbec)
- 1 cup (190g) green or brown lentils
- 2 ⅔ cups (640 mL) vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 2 ½ tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 2-3 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash (from the scooped out halves)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3-6 tablespoons water or vegetable broth, more as needed to thin the sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slice each butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and sticky stuff with a spoon. Place each squash half, cut side up, on a large baking sheet and rub each with a bit of the oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender and lightly browned.
- Make the Creamy Lentil Filling. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt and sauté for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning but not too often so that they can brown, or until most of the onions are browned. Add the garlic, sage and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine into all of the ingredients, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium and pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, until the liquid has evaporated and the smell of alcohol has dissipated, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth, along with the lentils, bay leaf, and paprika. Stir to combine and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer, and simmer until the lentils are just tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the tahini, miso, and balsamic vinegar, and stir until well incorporated. Taste for seasonings, adding about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- When the roasted squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh from each squash half, leaving a ½ to ¾-inch -thick border around the sides and bottom.
- Transfer 1 cup of the butternut squash flesh to a food processor (set aside the rest for another use, such as a risotto, pasta, oatmeal, or smoothie).
- Reduce oven temperature to 350F° (175°C).
- Stuff the lentil filling into each squash cavity. Add the stuffed squash halves to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until everything is warmed through.
- Meanwhile, make the butternut tahini sauce. To the food processor with the 1 cup squash flesh, add the tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. Stream in the water or broth, scraping down the sides as you go, until you have a pourable but thick sauce.
- To serve, drizzle the butternut tahini sauce on top of the stuffed baked squash. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.