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Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
Initially I made this recipe when I had some leftover rice that I wanted to use up, but it turned out so well that my husband and I often have it as a vegetarian dinner.
644 calories; protein 10.4g; carbohydrates 111.4g; fat 23.1g; cholesterol 15.3mg; sodium 360.1mg.
- 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 4 tablespoons cashews
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste / 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste / 1 small tart apple – peeled, cored, and grated / 1 cup cooked rice
- 4 tablespoons dried cranberries
- ½ teaspoon ground thyme, or to taste
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place acorn squash halves cut-side down in a baking dish. Add a few tablespoons water and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in the preheated oven until squash is soft and can easily be pierced by a fork, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile toast cashews in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop cashews.
Combine onion-apple mixture, rice, cranberries, and cashews in a bowl. Season filling with thyme, salt, and pepper and mix well.
Remove squash from the oven and leave oven on. Distribute filling among the 4 squash halves. Sprinkle with panko and butter. Return to oven and bake until filling is hot and bread crumbs are slightly browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
Squash filling adapted from the stuffed sweet potatoes in my cookbook, Love Real Food (page 144).
CHANGE IT UP: You can add more protein to this dish by stirring 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas), into the quinoa mixture. You may have some of the mixture leftover—it’s a great quinoa salad on its own.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Omit both varieties of cheese. You might want to add chickpeas (see above) to fill out the stuffing mixture. Top the baked squash with dollops of vegan sour cream, and you could even finish it off with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan.
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18.6g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 5.6g|
|Trans Fat 0.1g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 3.5g|
|Monounsaturated Fat 8.2g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 47.9g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||21%|
Is this stuffed acorn squash pretty or what?
I’m really excited to share this recipe with you. Roasted acorn squash halves topped with herbed quinoa make a delicious holiday-worthy main dish. It’s the perfect option if you’re serving vegetarian and gluten-free eaters.
This recipe is simple enough to put together on a relaxed weeknight, too. Pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s make some stuffed squash!
This recipe requires a few steps, but none of them are difficult. You can make the quinoa mixture while the squash is in the oven. Then, stuff the squash and bake until the quinoa turns golden and develops delicious little crispy bits on top.
The filling steals the show in this recipe. It features cranberry-studded quinoa and two kinds of cheese, one creamy and one melty. Chopped parsley and green onion offer lots of irresistible fresh flavor, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) contribute some savory crunch.
HOW TO CUT ACORN SQUASH?
It’s really important to be safe when you cut any winter squash with thick skin. Make sure you have a properly sharpened knife as dull knives are more dangerous. We recommend you find a way to sharpen your knives semi-annually to keep them in great condition!
To cut your acorn squash, first cut off a ¼” slice of the top of the acorn squash where the stem is located. Make sure to hold it carefully and firmly on the opposite end. Turn the acorn squash onto the freshly cut side, creating a much more stable base. . Cut the acorn squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Your acorn squash is ready to go!
TIPS FOR STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
- If you don’t want. to make your own filling, buy a preseasoned package or quinoa, rice, or couscous. Cook it following package instructions. Stuff the roasted acorn squash halves, top with cheese, and done!
- If you’d like to add protein to this dish, you can add your bean of choice of veggie sausage to the quinoa mixture.
- The stuffing for the acorn squash and stuffing can be prepared 2-3 days ahead of time. Before serving, top with cheese and bake. Acorn Squash halves can be roasted 1-2 days ahead of time.
How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash?
I treat my acorn squash the same as I do spaghetti squash—rubbed lightly with olive oil and baked cut-side down so the edges develop some delicious caramelization. Acorn squash bakes up even faster, in as little as 35 minutes.
Then, I stuffed the squash with a modified version of my stuffed sweet potatoes in Love Real Food. This time, I stirred dried cranberries into the hot quinoa to give them a chance to plump up. I also added some Parmesan for structure and extra flavor, and baked the squash again after stuffing it.
I love how the herbed quinoa mixture turns golden in the oven and develops an almost panko-like, crisp texture on top. It’s so good and contrasts beautifully with the tender squash beneath.
Chickpeas are Optional
I purposefully omitted the chickpeas from the original stuffing recipe. As written, you should have exactly enough filling to stuff four medium squash halves.
If you’re using particularly large acorn squash or wanting to up the protein content of this meal, you can stir one can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained) into the quinoa mixture as described in the recipe notes.
You can easily make this recipe dairy free or vegan—check the recipe notes for suggestions!
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Hearty and filling
- Simple ingredients but tastes so decadent
- Packed with crazy good flavors like tart, sweet and salty
- Meat-free and packed with plant-based proteins like chickpeas and wild rice
- Fun to eat in a cute little roasted acorn squash package
- Easily adaptable recipe – you can make it vegan, it’s already gluten-free and vegetarian or even add meat if you want!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
This recipe is great as a complete meal all on it’s own but here are a few other meal additions that it would pair great with.
- Salad: Like this Easy Kale Salad, Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad, or this Chopped Kale Salad with Quinoa.
- A side of veggies: Such as these Easy Ranch Roasted Carrots, Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice, or Easy Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic.
- More protein: Like these Healthy Black Bean Burgers, Chickpea Cauliflower Burgers or these Kale and Quinoa Patties.
RECIPE TIPS & VARIATIONS
- Make this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe vegan by removing the parmesan cheese and use vegan parmesan or omit it altogether.
- Add in some meat for the meat-eaters in your life. Cooked, crumbled sausage or ground turkey would both work in this dish.
- Use roasted butternut squash or even a small pumpkin in place of the acorn squash.
- Swap out the walnuts and add in some chopped cashews, pecans or pistachios. The nuts really give this dish a nice crunch.
- Use any type of cheese like goat cheese, mozzarella, or feta cheese in place of the parmesan cheese.
- How to pick an acorn squash – Select a squash with a lot of green and less orange or white with very few blemishes. If it has some wart looking hard spots, you can just scrape those off. Make sure to choose a squash will dull skin. Shiny skin means it was picked too early and will not have as much flavor. True for any type of squash.
- How long to bake acorn squash – Most acorn squash will take about 20-35 minutes roasted in the oven at 425 degrees F.
- Can you freeze stuffed acorn squash? Yes, you can! To Freeze this stuffed acorn squash: place one half stuffed squash into a freezer-friendly quart-sized bag and remove as much air as possible. Place it in the fridge to cool it completely and then transfer to the freezer. When ready to eat, remove from bag and microwave on high from frozen 5-7 minutes.