A colorful vegetarian quinoa stuffed acorn squash recipe (vegan option included) with quinoa, blue cheese and toasted walnuts! The filling comes together quickly while the acorn squash bakes. The final touch is a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to compliment the nutty flavors.
Why this stuffed acorn squash recipe works
- It’s fall and acorn squash is in season! – It’s beginning to look a lot like fall around here, although the heat is still extreme in many places all over the world. But that won’t hinder us from making cozy comfort foods like quinoa stuffed acorn squash, apple cider, pumpkin pies, pumpkin hummus, and pumpkin soup. Really anything using delicious seasonal flavors, produce and spices which means acorn squash! If you are not used to this tasty squash it is beautiful roasted and has a delicious nutty flavor and is less sweet than butternut squash.
- Contains plant-based protein, fiber, iron, and amino acids – This stuffed acorn squash recipe is plant based with a vegan option (details down below). It is packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins and minerals from acorn squash [source] and protein from crunchy walnuts and fluffy quinoa.
- A dinner that comes together quickly – while the squash is roasting you will be preparing the other ingredients before baking it together. This dish is ready in less than 1 hour. The time can be cut in half if you roast or bake the acorn squash in advance, which I love to do that to save time!
- vegetarian with a vegan option meal! – This recipe contains no meat and is perfect for meatless Mondays! Some days call for a break from meat and so this acorn recipe is super satisfying and filling for those evenings. Additional ingredients can be added such as chopped mushrooms, dried cranberries and other favorite fall veggies.
What goes into stuffed squash
The base is acorn squash and the filling is a blend of quinoa, blue cheese, toasted walnuts, green or white onion, spinach and thyme. Use either honey or maple syrup for the sweet drizzle that compliments all the flavors combinations. The dressing is a blend of avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil), lemon juice and salt and pepper. P.S. I forgot to add the salt and pepper in the picture!
How to make vegetarian stuffed acorn squash
STEP 1: Wash the acorn squash off to remove any dirt then coat each one with olive oil and wrap it in foil. You can also cut the acorn squash in half first before roasting, but it is easier to cut after it is cooked.
STEP 2: Meanwhile, make the quinoa and fluff it with a fork.
STEP 3: Then toast the walnuts on the stovetop.
STEP 4: Make the dressing which mixes into the filling.
STEP 5: Add to the pot of cooked quinoa the toasted walnuts, cheese, dried thyme, chopped spinach, and dressing and mix it together. Then cover the pot until the acorn squash is ready to be filled.
STEP 6: When the acorn squash is finished baking, let it cool then cut it in half and drizzle ½ teaspoon of honey into each half.
Step 7: Stuff each half of acorn squash with the filling and drizzle another ½ teaspoon on top (to caramelize). Bake the stuffed acorn squash for 20 minutes or until it is golden and caramelized on top slightly.
Frequently asked questions and expert tips
Acorn squash has a slightly nutty flavor and pairs well with quinoa, rich cheese such as feta, goat, or blue cheese, garlic, honey, maple syrup, and cranberries.
To determine if acorn squash is ripe, it should be hard and heavy. Squishy, soft and bruised areas are usually a sign the vegetable has spoiled.
Yes! The skin of acorn squash is tender when cooked and can be sliced and blended in with the meat and filling.
Visible signs of mold or if the squash smells like mold, is soft to poke, and light in weight is an indicator that it has spoiled or dried out.
To make this dish vegan, use vegan feta cheese in place of blue cheese and maple syrup in place of honey in equal quantities.
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Stuffed Acorn Squash (Vegan Option) with Quinoa, Blue Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil + plus extra to coat the acorn squash
- 2 acorn squash 1-¼ to 1-½ lb. each
- 1.5 cups water
- ¾ cup quinoa red or white
- 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup for vegan
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup white onion or green onion
- ⅓ cup blue cheese or use feta, goat cheese or vegan feta
- 1 cup spinach chopped finely then measured
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cover the acorn squash in olive oil. Place in a baking dish or pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, cook quinoa with water according to directions. While the quinoa cooks, place nuts in a frying pan on stove top and toast for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- In another bowl mix olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.
- When quinoa is finished add your lemon dressing, onion, spinach, cheese, thyme and toasted nuts. Cover the quinoa mixture to keep it warm if the squash needs more time to finish baking.
- When squash is finished baking, let cool. Cut in half and scoop out seeds. Drizzle each half with ½ tablespoon of honey. Stuff each half with the quinoa mixture. Drizzle remaining ½ tablespoon of honey each over each acorn. Bake for 20 minutes to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
My husband I both agree that fall is our favorite time of year as it feels calm. Sounds of rustling leaves and a fresh breeze passing through the air gives this season its peaceful presence. And after a busy summer, I am ready for the calm.
This recipe was first published in 2013 and has been updated.