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.
I’d say the filling steals the show in this recipe. I made it with 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 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 (page 144). 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.
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!
My favorite green salad would be the perfect complement to this stuffed squash. It features fresh apple, which pairs beautifully with acorn squash, and a few of the same ingredients—toasted pepitas, dried cranberries and goat cheese. If you make both recipes at once, you’ll use up one standard four-ounce package of goat cheese.
Another beautiful salad option would be my pomegranate and pear green salad with ginger dressing.
Looking for more holiday-worthy vegetarian main dishes and sides? Check out my Thanksgiving recipe roundup for more ideas.
Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I hope it’s a big hit at your dinner table.
Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
This vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe is beautiful and delicious! The cheesy quinoa filling develops an irresistible crispy top in the oven. Make it for your holiday dinner or serve it on a relaxed weeknight at home. Recipe yields 4 stuffed squash halves.
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- To prepare the squash, use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through it from the tip to the stem. I find it easiest to pierce the squash in the center along a depression line, then cut through the tip, and finish by slicing through the top portion just next to the stem. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside, and discard those pieces.
- Place the squash halves cut side up on the parchment-lined pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the squash, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are against the pan. Bake until the squash flesh is easily pierced through by a fork, about 30 to 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
- In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pepitas are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Pour the fluffed quinoa mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add the toasted pepitas, chopped green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
- If the mixture is very hot, let it cool for a few minutes before adding the Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
- Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Divide the mixture evenly between the squash halves with a large spoon. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheesy quinoa is turning golden on top.
- Sprinkle the stuffed squash with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and serve warm.
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.
▸ Nutrition Information