River Cottage stuffed squash

  • serves 6–8
  • A little tricky

For a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner, this stuffed squash makes a hearty and flavoursome centrepiece.

Stuffed squash recipe from River Cottage

This recipe from River Cottage has been created to make a great Christmas centrepiece for vegetarians and vegans. It looks celebratory and tastes of all the festive flavours. Serve with lovely vegan gravy, it is also a dish which omnivores will enjoy, and so it makes for a wonderfully inclusive feast.



For the stuffed squash

  • Medium sweet-fleshed squash 2kg, Crown Prince works particularly well
  • Olive or rapeseed oil 4 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves 8, peeled and bashed
  • Orange 1
  • Medium onion 2, quartered
  • Parsnips 350g, peeled and cut into pointy chunks
  • Eating apples 2, cored and cut into chunky eighths
  • Cooked chestnuts 150g, roughly chopped
  • Chicory bulbs 3, quartered lengthways
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the spice mix

  • Fennel seeds 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds 2 tsp
  • Sweet smoked paprika 1 tsp
  • A good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Rosemary leaves 1 tbsp, chopped

For the Brussels ‘slaw’

  • Brussels sprouts 150g, trimmed of any tired outer leaves
  • Lemon ½
  • Clementine ½
  • Pumpkin seeds 50g, toasted


  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Slice the top quarter or third off the squash and set it aside. Scoop out the seeds from the ‘bowl’ that’s left and scoop out or trim some of the flesh around the inside of the opening to make it wider. Cut away the peel from the top then cut the flesh from this piece into chunks; save these with the trim from the bowl.

  • Step 2

    Brush the inside of the squash with a little oil, season well with salt and pepper and add half the bashed garlic cloves. Place the squash on a baking tray and roast for 1–1½ hours, until the flesh is tender.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, prepare the spice mix. Toast the fennel and coriander seeds in a dry pan for a minute or two until fragrant, let cool slightly then crush to a coarse powder, using a pestle and mortar. Add the paprika, chilli flakes and chopped rosemary. Finely grate the zest of the orange and add this too. Season with some salt and pepper and mix well.

  • Step 4

    Put the reserved squash into a large roasting dish, along with the squash pieces. Add the onions, parsnips and the rest of the garlic. Add 2 tbsp oil and toss the veg in it, then add the spice mix and stir well so that the veg is well coated with spices. Put into the oven (above the squash if that fits) and roast for 20 minutes, until starting to colour. (If the squash is cooked before the rest of the roasted veg, cover it with foil to keep it warm.)

  • Step 5

    If you are serving the slaw, prepare it while the veg are roasting. Slice the Brussels sprouts very thinly and put them into a bowl. Trickle over a little oil and give them a squeeze each of lemon and clementine juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss together well, breaking up the sprout leaves a bit as you go. Put to one side.

  • Step 6

    Slice the zested orange into 8 wedges. Take the roasting tray from the oven and add the apples, orange wedges, chestnuts, chicory and lemon juice. Stir, so that all the ingredients get a coating of spice. Return to the oven for 30 minutes or until everything is tender and starting to turn golden. Remove the roasted orange wedges and set aside.

  • Step 7

    When the squash is tender, place it on a warmed large serving platter and heap the roasted veg, chestnuts and apples into it. (Any spare veg can be served on the side.)

  • Step 8

    Scatter the toasted pumpkin seeds over the top of the filled squash. Serve with the roasted orange wedges for squeezing over, and the slaw on the side if serving. Pour the vegan gravy into a jug to pass around.

Christmas at River Cottage front cover