These stuffed acorn squash rings make the perfect autumn side dish, ideal for meal prep or as a show-stopping addition to your meal! They’re glazed with a spicy-sweet sauce made from honey and harissa and filled with a flavor-packed, spiced savory-sweet rice pilaf for a mouthwatering experience.
This version of stuffed acorn squash is unique in a delightful way, and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, I cut the acorn squash into rings, as sometimes half of an acorn squash can be too much and a bit challenging to eat. However, if you prefer the boat-style presentation, feel free to cut the squash in half instead of rings. Another aspect of this recipe that elevates it is the glaze used to flavor the acorn squash. I took the classic hot honey and enhanced it by incorporating a delicious, spicy Tunisian paste called harissa, mixing it with honey to strike the perfect balance between heat and sweetness, coupled with a delightful floral undertone. We also use more of this flavorful harissa honey in the rice pilaf, which brings the whole dish together.
The pilaf is a burst of flavors and textures, ranging from the harissa honey to the za’atar, smoked paprika, nutty pistachios, sweet roasted grapes, and a burst of juicy crunch from the pomegranates. This rice pilaf is so flavorful that it can be enjoyed on its own, making it a great meal prep option or a crowd-pleasing side dish.
Harissa Honey Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Ingredients
For the Glazed Squash:
- Acorn Squash: This is the most common squash for this kind of dish, known for its sweet and nutty flavor. However, you can also use delicate squash if preferred.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Always choose the highest quality olive oil.
- Harissa: This Tunisian paste varies by brand but usually contains a blend of hot smoked chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices like cumin, coriander, caraway, and mint.
- Honey: You can use your favorite type of honey; I typically prefer orange blossom or wildflower, but any high-quality honey will work.
- Za’atar: A favorite spice blend of mine, consisting of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds.
- Smoked Paprika: For a rich, smoky kick to complement the harissa.
- Sumac: Adds a slightly tart, berry-like flavor.
- Salt: To enhance all the flavors.
For the Rice Pilaf:
- Rice: I typically use long-grain white rice, but nearly any rice or grain will work, except arborio.
- Vegetable Broth: Any type of broth or stock will do, as long as it adds more flavor than plain water.
- Harissa, Za’atar, Smoked Paprika, Sumac, Salt: Since we’re already using these ingredients for the squash glaze, why not coat the rice in them as well and give it a little toast before adding the broth to enrich the flavors?
- Honey: Added after the rice has cooked to impart a touch of floral sweetness.
- Grapes: An optional yet delightful addition that pairs wonderfully with all the flavors, especially when roasted.
- Pistachios: A signature touch in my dishes for that nutty, toasty crunch. Roasted pistachios are highly recommended, but you can use any nut or seed of your choice.
- Pomegranate Arils: These provide a sweet, juicy burst of crunch.