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eHow Video: “Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage and Ricotta Cheese” (vegan, of course!)

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One of the things people worry about when contemplating going vegan is what the holidays will be like, particularly Thanksgiving. I recently received an email from a non-vegan friend who said that she had just learned about what happens to turkeys in slaughterhouses “and now Thanksgiving is ruined!”
Au contraire! The best Thanksgiving I ever had was my first vegan Thanksgiving. I felt that I was actually honoring the true spirit of the holiday, which is about giving thanks and celebrating life. Plus, putting aside the ethics and the health, it was the most delicious Thanksgiving I had ever had. After all, aren’t the real stars of the Thanksgiving meal the sides and the desserts?
One option for a vegan Thanksgiving is to have the meal be made up entirely of delicious side dishes. Personally, I think that would be absolutely fantastic, but I also know many of us are used to and enjoy having a main dish as a central focal point. Hence, this gorgeous stuffed acorn squash recipe!

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     The sausage and ricotta can be prepared well in advance and then frozen. Then, on the big day, all you’ll have to do is assemble them into the squash halves and stick them in the oven as described. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish are so aromatic and comforting–the hearty, earthiness of the sausage; the lemony freshness of the ricotta; and the soft, candy-like sweetness of the squash. To my mind, the best way to truly honor this holiday is with food that celebrates life, peace, and joy 🙂

Ingredients:
6 acorn squashes (recipe yields enough to fill at least 12 squash halves; any remaining can be frozen)
Sausage Ingredients:
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 cups cooked lentils
2 tablespoons marjoram
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fennel
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons thyme
4 cloves garlic
Ricotta Ingredients:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 20 minutes
1/3 cup nondairy milk (i.e. almond, soy, etc.)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Italian herb blend
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions:
1. Slice the acorn squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
2. To make the sausage: Saute the carrot and onion for 10-15 minutes. Once browned, place vegetables into a food processor along with all the spices and flax. Add cooked quinoa and lentils and pulse just till ingredients begin to stick together (about 10-15 times). Place mixture in a pan and brown.
3. To make the ricotta: Place cashews, nondairy milk, lemon juice, garlic, and maple syrup in a food processor and blend till just smooth (remember, ricotta is somewhat grainy rather than completely whipped). Add in the basil, Italian herb blend, salt and pepper and pulse until blended in.
4. To compose the dish, place a layer of ricotta at the bottom of each squash bowl. Then add some sausage crumbles. Top with more ricotta. Any remaining sausage and ricotta can be frozen and used at another time (perhaps for butternut squash lasagna).
5. Put squashes back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes, or until they are soft and caramelized.
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