Slow Cooker

Slow-Cooker Whole Squash With Spelt & Feta

December 24, 2019
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Kate Buckens.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 50 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

When it comes to methods of cooking this type of tough, thick-skinned produce, a slow-cooker may not be your first thought; in fact, the machine is an ingenious way to cook a whole squash. Plus, it’s almost entirely hands-off. Pop any big, round winter squash (kuri, kabocha, acorn, etc.) into the slow cooker and hit start. Meanwhile, the rest of the dish—components of which can be prepared in advance—is quite simple. Boil grains, toast nuts, whisk together dressing. Say hello to your new favorite cold-weather side dish. —Rebecca Firkser

What You'll Need
  • 3 to 4 pounds red kuri, kabocha, or acorn squash (about 1 to 2 squash)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts or pecans
  • 3/4 cup spelt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons white miso
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mixed tender herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, and chives, chopped, divided
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into planks
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Give the squash a good scrub to get rid of any debris stuck to the skin.
  2. Place the squash in your slow cooker (you may need to cut off the stem or turn the squash on its side to fit) and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until a cake tester or paring knife stuck into the squash slides in easily. Remove squash to a cutting board.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F. Toss nuts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a big pinch of salt on a sheet pan and toast until deeply golden, tossing occasionally, until golden and toasty-smelling, 8 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. When cool, use a small bowl to gently crush the nuts.
  4. Bring a medium saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Rinse spelt and boil until al dente, 20 to 50 minutes depending on the type of grain you purchased. Most packages will include directions for how to simmer grains to absorb a specific amount of water; cooking grains like pasta ensures they’ll have a bit of bite to them instead of turning out mushy. There’s no specific science to this, simply test a grain every 10 minutes after they cook for 20. Like dry beans, each variety and brand of grain will cook for a different length of time. Drain grains well and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and miso, then slowly stream in 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour off 2 tablespoons of dressing into a small bowl and set aside. Mix spelt into dressing, then stir in the chopped herbs and half the nuts. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
  6. Cut squash into 4 or 6 wedges (carefully if it’s still hot to the touch) and remove pulp and seeds if desired. Transfer to a serving platter and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over the squash, then spoon dressed grains over. Top with remaining nuts, feta, and pepper flake if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Pinkowl02
  • Nicole Fisher
    Nicole Fisher
  • Grace Miya
    Grace Miya
  • Rebecca Firkser
    Rebecca Firkser
  • Ivan Tikhvinski
    Ivan Tikhvinski

10 Reviews

Christa January 6, 2024
This recipe is genius--I haven't used my slow-cooker all winter because I find that recipes tend to turn out watery and undercooked and take too long, but this method worked perfectly for kabocha squash and kept it moist. I eat grain salads/bowls such as this all the time with roasted vegetables. I cooked a 4-pound kabocha squash on high for 3 hours, and it turned out perfectly. Will definitely make again--a keeper.
Christa January 6, 2024
This method is genius: I haven't used my slow-cooker all winter and don't use it much at all, because I find that recipes tend to turn out watery and undercooked and take too long, but this was a brilliant want to cook a kabocha squash and to keep it moist. I eat similar grain salads/bowls all the time with roasted vegetables. This recipe
Pinkowl02 February 21, 2020
This was amazing!!
I baked my acorn squash in the oven at 445 for about 20-30minutes. Done!
I also couldn't find White Miso in stores near me, so I used a substitute on hand which was tahini- worked beautifully!
The lightly salted toasted pecans blended fantastically with this dressing that immersed itself into the farro (couldn't find spelt either!) and caramelized acorn squash.

I thank you for this! Worth keeping and making again.
Nicole F. January 19, 2020
This looks amazing! I don’t have a slow cooker, how would I make this in the oven?
Rebecca F. January 20, 2020
Poke the squash all over with a paring knife then bake at 425 for 1-1.5 hours! Check it after an hour, they all take different amounts of time.
andrea S. January 14, 2020
We didn't enjoy the squash cooked in the slow cooker - it was cooked but it was missing the caramelized and salted taste of oven roasted squash. Also, it was challenging to fit 2 squash (only 3 pounds total) in my big slow cooker and put the lid on. I cut the nubby top & bottom of the larger squash and that squash fell apart into mush. We used farro in place of spelt but otherwise made the recipe exactly as written.
Grace M. January 6, 2020
This was really good and so pretty on the plate. I used farro instead of spelt.
debrl December 31, 2019
I wonder if quinoa could be substituted for the spelt as a gluten free option....
Rebecca F. December 31, 2019
Absolutely! Just cook the quinoa however you prefer, and swap it in.
Ivan T. June 8, 2020
I don't think the texture of the quinoa would work as well in this recipe (just my opinion). Spelt and farro work so well because they are nutty in texture/taste