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Squapeppen - The Vegetarian's Turducken

run appetit!

Quick and delicious, runner-inspired recipes!

Great for: A meatless holiday centerpiece

For those of us that like to limit the amount of animal protein we consume, there are few show-stopping main courses to serve around the holidays. For meat lovers there's the crown roast, beef Wellington, pot roast, and the legendary TurDuckEn. It's time vegetarians have their turn at presenting an awe-inspiring main dish to their loved ones. This recipe for the Squapeppen layers vegetables with a mushroom and pecan stuffing to create an impressive, vegetarian showpiece for the holiday table.


  • 1 butternut squash (uniform size from the top to the bottom), halved lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter, separated
  • 6 ounces baby bella musrooms, diced
  • 1/2 of a large onion, or one small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 leek, greens removed, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 small sweet peppers (small enough to be the middle layer in the squash), cored and left whole
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place the halves of the butternut squash on a sheet pan, cut side up and seeds removed, and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the squash is barely starting to soften.
  3. While the squash is in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan.
  4. Add in the mushrooms, onions, and celery and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Remove the squash from the oven and hollow out the middle with a metal spoon, leaving a uniform, 1-inch border around the inside of the squash. Reserve about 1 cup of the squash and add to the mushroom mixture.
  6. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the mushrooms as well, and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until everything is cooked through.
  7. Add the pecans and parmesan cheese and stir to combine. (It is very important to check for seasoning here! Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste)
  8. Stir in the egg and set the mixture aside.
  9. To prepare the peppers, combine the mascarpone, lemon juice, parsley, and a 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Gently fill the peppers by spooning the mixture into the middle of each pepper.
  10. To prepare the Squapeppen: line the inside of both halves of the squash with a few leek layers. Add some of the mushroom mixture into both halves as well.
  11. In one half of the squash, place the peppers in a row to fill the inside. In the other half, continue layering leeks and stuffing until you've filled the inside.
  12. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter over both halves.
  13. Cover the pan with foil and place the squash in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, removing the foil after 45 minutes. (Depending on the size of your squash, it might need a little extra time in the oven.)
  14. After the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes
  15. Very carefully, place the stuffing side directly on top of the pepper side, and press firmly to create a complete Squaducken. At this point, you can wrap your squash tightly in aluminum foil to secure the halves even better.
  16. Slice your Squapeppen right down the middle to see the many layers. Enjoy!