Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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  • Fall is full of a beautiful bounty of produce, but sometimes you want to do more than just roast them. This Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe is simple and easy and solves that exact problem.

    overhead shot of stuffed acorn squash with text overlay for facebook

    It is that time of year again – squash is in season! With so many varieties, it can be hard to choose. I love acorn squash because of its earthy flavor and because it’s relatively easy to work with.

    Typically, I make my Maple Acorn Squash, but my friend Tiff brought over her Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash for Sunday dinner and it opened up my eyes to the squash-abilities. (I went there.)

    Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash is fantastic because it can be served as a side dish, but it is hearty enough to make a full-blown entree as well.

    Quinoa is a whole grain that comes from the amaranth plant. Technically, quinoa is the seed of the plant. It is packed with minerals, vitamins, and fiber and is naturally gluten-free.

    Whether you’re looking for a great side dish or a festive main meal, this stuffed acorn squash is my favorite way to start getting into the fall spirit.

    4 halves of stuffed acorn squash on a baking sheet

    Ingredients

    • Acorn squash – Remove the seeds and pulp from your squash halves. You can even save the seeds and roast them for a deliciously crunchy topping or snack if you’d like.
    • Olive oil – A little bit of olive oil is a good base to saute all of the veggies. It helps them to not stick to the pan or each other.
    • Quinoa – Make sure your quinoa is prepared according to package directions. See the variations section below for alternative cooked grain recommendations.
    • Shallots – Similar to garlic, shallots bring flavor and texture to this dish.
    • Rosemary – Make sure to use fresh rosemary here. Fresh herbs bring so much more flavor to a dish than dried herbs do.
    • Green bell pepper – I prefer using green peppers, but feel free to use whatever peppers or veggies you have on hand.
    • Mushrooms – Sliced mushrooms help add to the earthy flavors of this main dish.
    • White wine – I like to use a dry white wine or cooking wine here. The flavor that is brings to the dinner table is incredible.
    • Fresh spinach – Make sure to use fresh spinach here. Frozen spinach has already been cooked and wilted. We want ours to be just wilted and not soggy.
    • Mild chicken sausage – Make sure that the casings are removed. You will want this crumbled and cooked before starting this recipe.
    • Pine nuts – These are optional, but I love the flavor and crunch that toasted pine nuts give to this delicious side dish.
    • Dried cranberries – Helping to encapsulate the fall flavors, dried cranberries also bring a delicious element of sweet to this sausage stuffed acorn squash.
    • Feta cheese – Crumbled feta is the perfect creamy topping. The flavor isn’t too strong or overpowering, but it’s perfectly complimentary to the other flavors we’ve got going on.
    • Squash or pumpkin seeds – These make a great addition to the dish because they provide a nice crunch. If you saved the seeds from your acorn squashes, this is a great opportunity to use them.
    close up of stuffed acorn squash

    How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash

    1. Prepare oven and pan. Preheat the oven and line a rimmed baking sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.
    2. Prepare squash. Cut the bottoms of each squash to prevent rolling when served. Bake squash in preheated oven, flesh side down until they are easily pierced with a fork.
    collage of how to bake acorn squash
    1. Make filling. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add shallot and sauté, then add green bell pepper until soft. Lastly, add mushrooms, white wine, and rosemary. Continue to cook until liquid has reduced significantly. Take off the stove and add spinach, toss until wilted. Transfer all to cooked quinoa, also adding cooked chicken sausage, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.
    2. Stuff and top. When the acorn squash is done, flip over and spoon quinoa mixture evenly into each. Top with crumbled feta cheese and pumpkin/squash seeds. Serve hot and enjoy!
    collage of how to make stuffed acorn squash

    Stuffed Acorn Squash Variations

    • Meat – If you’re not a fan of chicken sausage, feel free to use Italian sausage, ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey. Any type of ground meat will work beautifully for this recipe.
    • Squash – You could ideally use any type of winter squashes for this recipe. Butternut squash, spaghetti squash or even sweet potatoes are all great for squash bakes like this. They will all just require a different baking time to become fork tender.
    • Toppings – The top of the squash can be adorned with anything you see fit. Instead of pumpkin or squash seeds, try sunflower seeds. Instead of feta cheese, try parmesan cheese.
    • Quinoa – Don’t have quinoa or don’t love it? Substitute it with a different grain. A wild rice blend, cooked brown rice or any type of rice mixture will work for this easy stuffed acorn squash. Try cooking it in vegetable broth or chicken broth for extra flavor.
    • Make it sweet – The best ways to add even more sweet flavors to this complete meal is to add some maple syrup, fresh apple or brown sugar. The warm spices of these ingredients really bring out the fall flavors of this dish.
    stuffed acorn squash cut in half

    Storage and Freezing

    You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Alternatively, you can prep the filling ahead of time if needed. Just cook the squash when you’re ready to make it, and reheat the filling in a large skillet over medium heat.

    Unfortunately, a whole acorn squash will not freeze very well. But the stuffing freezes perfectly! You can store it and then just cook the squash half when you’re ready to enjoy it again.

    collage of stuffed acorn squash for pinterest

    More Side Dish Recipes

    Three Bean Salad
    three bean salad in a blue bowl
    Classic Three Bean Salad is the perfect BBQ side dish. This easy, make-ahead dish is always a hit and perfect for potlucks too!
    Pickled Asparagus Salad
    pickled asparagus salad in a bowl
    Pickled Asparagus Salad is made with blanched asparagus marinated in a vinaigrette and tossed with water chestnuts and roasted red pepper.
    angled shot of stuffed acorn squash with text overlay for pinterest
    close up of stuffed acorn squash
    Print Recipe
    4.47 from 15 votes

    Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash is an amazing fall entree or side dish. Chicken sausage, cranberries, pepitas, and feta cheese make this recipe a winner.
    Prep Time10 mins
    Cook Time1 hr
    Total Time1 hr 10 mins
    Course: Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: acorn squash recipe, stuffed acorn squash
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 849kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    • Cut the bottoms of each squash to prevent rolling when served. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake squash, flesh side down for 30-40 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a fork.
    • Meanwhile, make the filling by heating olive oil in a medium skillet. Add shallot, saute for 2-3 minutes and then add green bell pepper until soft. Lastly, add mushrooms, white wine, and rosemary. Continue to cook until liquid has reduced significantly. Take off the stove and add spinach, toss until wilted. Transfer all to cooked quinoa, also adding cooked chicken sausage, pine nuts, and dried cranberries.
    • When the acorn squash is done, flip over and spoon quinoa mixture evenly into each. Top with crumbled feta cheese and pumpkin/squash seeds. Serve hot and enjoy!
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was! 

    Notes

    To use acorn squash seeds for garnish, rinse to remove all flesh. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with fine sea salt and ground black pepper. Roast in the same oven as the acorn squash for 20-30 minutes, but flip often to prevent burning.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 849kcal | Carbohydrates: 113g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 883mg | Potassium: 1573mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 1925IU | Vitamin C: 52.5mg | Calcium: 231mg | Iron: 7.9mg
    image of jessica formicola

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