Jewelled Saffron Rice Stuffed Squash Recipe

Swap the Christmas turkey for this vegan friendly, spectacular butternut squash centerpiece

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Traditional spices, fruits and nuts help make turn the humble butternut squash into a stunning centrepiece for your vegan festive feast.

Recipe courtesy of Sorrel Scott for Abel & Cole.

Image Abel & Cole


1 large butternut squash (approx. 1kg)

2 red onions

A thumb of fresh ginger

25g dried apricots

A large pinch of saffron, threads and powder

2 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon

A pinch of chilli flakes

100g white basmati rice

500ml vegetable stock

25g raisins

25g dried cranberries

6 large kale leaves

1 orange

A large handful of flat leaf parsley

50g whole almonds


  1. Heat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Halve the squash lengthways. Scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut-side down, on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 30 mins.
  2. Let it cool for 10 mins, then scoop out the squash flesh, leaving a 1cm border. Finely chop the squash flesh and set aside. Turn the oven down to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4.
  3. Peel and finely chop the onions. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Roughly chop the dried apricots. Soak the saffron in 1 tbsp boiling water.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan. Add the onions. Season. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins, stirring, till soft. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, chilli flakes and rice.
  5. Pour in 500ml vegetable stock. Add the saffron and its liquid, the apricots, raisins and cranberries and the chopped squash. Cover and simmer for 15 mins till the rice is just tender and all the water is absorbed.
  6. While the rice is cooking, bring a pan of water to the boil. Slice the stems from the kale, keeping the leaves as whole as possible. Drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 3 mins. Plunge into ice cold water. Squeeze dry. Set aside.
  7. Squeeze the juice from half the orange into the rice. Roughly chop the parsley leaves, stalks and the almonds. Add to the rice. Fold together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  8. Lay your two squash halves, cut-side up, on a board. Line them with the kale leaves. Spoon in the rice stuffing, pushing it in firmly. Carefully put the two halves together. Tie them up with string or twine.
  9. Place in a baking dish. Roast for 30 mins till soft and the skin has darkened. Rest for 10 mins, then carve in thick slices and serve.