The first restaurant at which I worked in Seattle was Julia’s in Wallingford. I was in charge of creating dinner and lunch specials, and for the most part they were vegetarian or vegan.
Here is a recipe from that time that would be perfect for Thanksgiving, because it will serve a crowd of 12 as a side dish. If you’re serving a smaller crowd, however, it is simple enough to cut the recipe in half (or in thirds) to serve fewer diners. I recently served it as a side with my Turkey, Sweet Potato & Kale Loaf.
6 squash — you can use butternut, delicata (as shown below), acorn, or Futsu (as pictured above)
6 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, small dice (or about 3 cups)
12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
3 stalks celery, minced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
6 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup sunflower seeds
¾ cup golden raisins
24 dried apricots, chopped
6 cups bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice squash in half and remove the seeds—as you would with a pumpkin. Rub olive oil on the cut side of squash, and place it cut-side down on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until flesh is soft.
While the squash is baking, melt butter in a saute pan. Add the onions, and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Then add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for another 8-10 minutes. Next, add the garlic to the onion-mushroom mixture, and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove pan from the heat.
In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the onion mixture and stir until combined.
Once the squash halves are baked, turn them cut side up and fill the hollowed-out cavities with the stuffing mixture. You should have enough stuffing for a heaping amount in each squash half. Return the filled squash to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve. This works well as a vegetarian main dish or is great as a side to roast chicken or turkey.