Squash Stuffed with Pears, Wild Rice & Mushrooms

squash stuffed with pears, wild rice & tempeh. photo owned by natural grocers

Swapped out the tempeh for organic baby Portobello mushrooms to ensure gluten-free side dish. Image owned by Natural Grocers.

This gluten-free recipe is based on one I found at Natural Grocers, an organic grocery chain with stores in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. The original recipe calls for plain tempeh (a soy-based vegan food used in place of meat) but because I can’t often find plain tempeh, I used baby Portobello mushrooms. Most packaged tempeh I’ve seen in stores are flavored and contain gluten.

Below is the Natural Grocers’ recipe and instructions. My comments are in italics.

  • Prep time: 40 minutes (took me a little longer but I’m not fast in the kitchen)
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes (I added 5 minutes because I used ramekins to cook the squash)
  • Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (took me closer to 2 hours)
  • Servings: 8 (I guess a half squash plus stuffing is considered 2 servings)


For the mushrooms

  • 1/2 container of organic baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced about 1/8” inch (original recipe called for 1 package of original tempeh, probably about 8 ounces and sliced)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tamari (it’s soy sauce without the wheat)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

For the squash

  • 2 acorn squashes (about 1 ½ pounds each)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the rice

  • ½ cup wild rice, rinsed (well)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp salt (I used about ¼ tsp)

For the stuffing mixture

  • 3 tbsp apple juice
  • 3 tbsp sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery ribs, small diced
  • 2 firm pears (I used Red Anjou), peeled, cored, the halved lengthwise and medium diced
  • 2 tbsp dried sage (I used 2 tsp because sage is a bit strong for my taste buds) or 4 tbsp fresh, finely minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (I used half that amount to adjust for the lower amount of sage) or 2 tsp fresh, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (I used 1/2 tbsp dried parsley)
  • ½ tsp salt (I used about a ¼ tsp or less)
  • ¼ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (I used pecans, my favorite!)

If you’re following a low-sodium diet, adjust the amount of salt listed above accordingly. I personally prefer to salt my food after serving.


For the mushrooms

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the balsamic vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup.
  2. Using a baking dish, pour the balsamic vinegar mixture over the chopped mushrooms to marinate, coat well.
  3. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes (or more) or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (same applies if using tempeh).

For the squash

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (I used 350 degrees). Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and string, discard.
  2. Rub the squash flesh with olive oil. Sprinkle each half with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg (I totally forgot to do this!).
  3. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side down.

 I lined the baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.

  1. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until flesh is tender.

At 40 minutes, my squash was perfectly done without any burning or little browning.

For the rice

  1. In a small pan, combine the wild rice, vegetable stock, and salt.
  2. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 40-45 minutes. When the rice is done, most of the liquid should be evaporated.

My rice cooker did the job for me, ensuring no hard bits of rice remained.

  1. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

For the stuffing mixture

  1. Soak the cranberries in a bowl of water and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat add olive oil.

If using tempeh, remove the slices from the marinade and place in a baking dish. Cover with lid and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes – no temperature specified. When done set aside. Save the marinade.

  1. Stir in onion and celery, cook until soft – about 3-5 minutes. Strain mushrooms from marinade and add to pan with garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Save remaining marinade.
  2. Add pears, sage, thyme, parsley, and salt (if using). Gently toss and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain and add the cranberries with the nuts and rice. Stir then remove from heat.

If using tempeh, chop the slices into bite-sized pieces and add to the skillet with onion, celery, rice, etc.

  1. Pour the marinade over the rice stuffing mixture and gently toss.
  2. Mound the stuffing evenly over the cooked squash halves.

I opted to scoop and mash the cooked squash in a mixing bowl. I added a touch of cinnamon with the nutmeg. After mixing thoroughly, I evenly distributed the mashed squash into olive oil-lined ramekin bowls then topped with the stuffing. This eliminated the chance of biting into pieces of squash skin and made the whole thing into a one-dish meal.

  1. Cover with foil.
  2. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

When I’m trying out a new recipe, I forgo taking photos of the process so I don’t get distracted. When I make this again during the holiday season, I will update this post with those photos.

Let me know how this turned out for you by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Happy eating!


#glutenfree #onedishmeal #acornsquash #veganoption


About Bonnie Parrish-Kell

Publisher & Chief Diva here at Slowpoke Divas. I always feel better after a good workout or matter how sore I am afterwards. Tweet me @bparrishkell or @slowpokedivas. Instagram: @slowpokedivas