Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta Recipe - Vegetarian Delight

Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta

Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta Recipe - Vegetarian Delight
Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta
Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta

Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta is a delightful dish that combines the sweet, nutty flavor of roasted acorn squash with the rich, tangy taste of sun-dried tomato polenta. This recipe is perfect for those who appreciate the harmony of flavors and textures in their meals. It's a vegetarian dish that doesn't skimp on taste or satisfaction, making it an excellent choice for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Whether you're looking for a cozy autumn dinner or a unique side dish for your next gathering, this recipe is sure to impress.


The use of acorn squash and polenta in cooking dates back centuries, with both ingredients having roots in different cultures. Acorn squash is native to North and Central America and has been a staple in Indigenous diets long before European settlers arrived. Polenta, on the other hand, originates from Italy and has been a traditional food for the poor, made from various grains before corn was introduced from the New World. This recipe brings together these two culturally significant ingredients, creating a dish that is both comforting and rich in history.


How to prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray it liberally with nonstick vegetable oil.
  2. Cut the squashes in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds and a little extra flesh.
  3. Place the squashes face down on the parchment paper and cook for about 45 minutes, or until a sharp knife easily penetrates the outside skin and the rim of the flesh is lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the tomatoes in very hot water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes. When soft, coarsely chop them and set aside.
  5. On a small sheet pan or in a baking dish, toast the pine nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.


  1. In a food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  2. Start the machine and, as the blade is turning, pour the olive oil through the shoot. Blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Set the paste aside in a small bowl. (Use the same bowl, rinsed and dried, that was used for soaking the tomatoes).


  1. Bring the stock to a boil in a medium to heavy saucepan. Add salt, keeping the water boiling at medium-high heat.
  2. Gradually add the polenta, either slowly from a measuring cup or by letting a fistful run through nearly closed fingers, while constantly stirring with a long-handled whisk. When all the polenta is added, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook gently.
  3. Continue stirring, switching to a long-handled wooden spoon. To avoid burning or sticking, use a heat-diffusing device.
  4. Stir continuously and thoroughly, bringing the mixture up from the bottom and loosening it from the sides. (Make sure the sides are scooped clean.)
  5. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes, or until the polenta is creamy and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto.
  6. Remove the squash from the oven. Spoon the tomato mixture into the squash “bowls.” Top with shredded Parmesan, dust with paprika, and garnish with parsley.


  • Vegan Version: Substitute the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast or a vegan Parmesan alternative.
  • Spicy Kick: Add red pepper flakes to the sun-dried tomato pesto for a bit of heat.
  • Additional Vegetables: Mix in sautéed spinach or kale into the polenta for extra greens.
  • For a vegan version, substitute the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast or a vegan Parmesan alternative.
  • Add roasted mushrooms or caramelized onions to the polenta for extra flavor and texture.
  • Spice up the dish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes in the pesto for a bit of heat.


  1. For a faster dish, substitute store-bought sun-dried tomato pesto, which won’t be as fresh or as satisfying. However, making your own is easy. You can prepare the whole dish ahead, minus garnishes. Refrigerate, reheat until hot and garnish with shredded cheese, paprika and parsley. If squashes are particularly misshapen, trim ridged edges so they will stand up straight without rolling over.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta turns out perfectly, consider the following tips:

- When selecting acorn squash, look for ones that are firm and heavy for their size. The skin should be free of blemishes.

- Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for at least 20 minutes to soften them, making them easier to chop and blend.

- Constant stirring is crucial when cooking polenta to prevent lumps and ensure a creamy texture.

- For a more intense flavor, consider roasting the garlic before adding it to the pesto.

- Use a heat diffuser when cooking polenta to prevent it from sticking and burning at the bottom.

Serving Suggestions

This dish can be served as a main course or as a side dish. For a complete meal, pair it with a simple green salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and a slice of crusty whole-grain bread.

Cooking Techniques

Roasting the acorn squash brings out its natural sweetness and softens its flesh, making it the perfect vessel for the polenta. Cooking polenta requires patience and constant stirring to achieve a creamy, smooth consistency. Blending the pesto ingredients until smooth ensures a uniform flavor throughout.

Ingredient Substitutions

If sun-dried tomatoes are not available, roasted red peppers can be a good substitute.

- Almonds or walnuts can replace pine nuts in the pesto for a different nutty flavor.

- Chicken or vegetable broth can be used instead of vegetable stock for cooking the polenta.

Make Ahead Tips

The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for longer storage. The acorn squash can also be roasted ahead of time and reheated before serving.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the stuffed acorn squash halves on a platter garnished with extra parsley and a drizzle of olive oil for an elegant presentation. A sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese adds a finishing touch.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc pairs beautifully with the flavors of this dish. For a non-alcoholic option, a sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon complements the meal.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of this dish contains approximately 300-400 calories, making it a moderate-calorie option suitable for a main course. The exact calorie count can vary based on the size of the squash and the amount of olive oil and Parmesan cheese used.


This dish is a good source of complex carbohydrates, primarily from the acorn squash and polenta. Acorn squash provides about 15 grams of carbohydrates per cup, while polenta offers about 30 grams per serving. These complex carbohydrates are essential for energy and help keep you feeling full longer.


The fats in this recipe come mainly from the olive oil and pine nuts used in the pesto, as well as the Parmesan cheese. Olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat, beneficial for heart health. Pine nuts contain polyunsaturated fats, which are also heart-healthy. In moderation, these fats are an essential part of a balanced diet.


While this dish is not high in protein, it does provide a modest amount from the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. To increase the protein content, consider adding a side of quinoa or a sprinkle of hemp seeds on top before serving.

Vitamins and minerals

Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta is rich in vitamins and minerals. Acorn squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. Sun-dried tomatoes provide vitamins C and K, iron, and antioxidants. Together, these ingredients make for a nutrient-dense meal.


This recipe contains potential allergens, including nuts (pine nuts) and dairy (Parmesan cheese). Those with allergies or sensitivities to these ingredients should modify the recipe accordingly or avoid it.


Overall, Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta is a nutritious dish that provides a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. It's a heart-healthy option that can fit into various dietary preferences, including vegetarian diets.


Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta is a flavorful, nutritious dish that combines the best of autumn's bounty with the rich, tangy taste of sun-dried tomato polenta. With its balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, it's a satisfying meal that's as good for you as it is delicious. Whether you're serving it as a main course or a side dish, it's sure to be a hit at any table.

How did I get this recipe?

I can still remember the exact moment I discovered this recipe for Acorn Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Polenta. It was a crisp autumn afternoon, and I was visiting my dear friend Margaret's farmhouse for our usual Sunday afternoon tea. Margaret was an excellent cook, and she always had something delicious baking in the oven or simmering on the stove.

On this particular day, Margaret had prepared a feast fit for a queen. There was roast chicken with sage and thyme, buttery mashed potatoes, and a side dish that caught my eye immediately - acorn squash with sun-dried tomato polenta. The vibrant colors of the dish, with the bright orange of the squash and the deep red of the sun-dried tomatoes, were simply irresistible.

I watched as Margaret effortlessly sliced the acorn squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and brushed the flesh with olive oil. She seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of brown sugar before popping it in the oven to roast. As the squash cooked, she prepared the polenta, stirring in the sun-dried tomatoes and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.

The aroma that filled Margaret's farmhouse was intoxicating. The sweetness of the squash mingled with the tangy sun-dried tomatoes and the nutty Parmesan cheese, creating a symphony of flavors that danced on my taste buds. I couldn't wait to try it.

When the dish was finally ready, Margaret plated it up and served it with a flourish. I took my first bite, and I was instantly transported to foodie heaven. The creamy polenta was the perfect foil for the tender, roasted squash, and the sun-dried tomatoes added a burst of umami that tied everything together.

I couldn't help but ask Margaret for the recipe, and she happily obliged. She explained that she had learned it from a friend who had traveled to Italy and brought back the recipe as a souvenir. I was amazed at how such a simple dish could be so incredibly delicious.

From that day on, acorn squash with sun-dried tomato polenta became one of my go-to recipes for special occasions. I loved serving it to guests and watching their faces light up with delight as they took their first bite. It became a signature dish of mine, a testament to the power of good food and good friends.

Over the years, I have made some tweaks to the recipe, adding a touch of fresh basil or a drizzle of balsamic glaze to elevate the flavors even further. But the essence of the dish remains the same - simple, elegant, and bursting with flavor.

As I sit here now, reminiscing about that fateful day at Margaret's farmhouse, I can't help but smile. That recipe for acorn squash with sun-dried tomato polenta has brought me so much joy and satisfaction over the years. It's a reminder that sometimes, the simplest of dishes can be the most memorable.

So the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, looking for a new recipe to try, I urge you to give this one a go. I promise you won't be disappointed. And who knows, maybe one day you'll be passing it down to your own grandchildren, just like I have. Happy cooking!


| Acorn Squash Side Dish Recipes | Cheese Recipes | Parmesan Cheese Recipes | Pine Nut Recipes | Polenta Recipes | Vegetable Stock And Broth Recipes | Vegetarian Recipes |

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