This Stuffed Acorn Squash filled with Quinoa Stuffing makes a beautiful and filling vegan main course. It would be an excellent vegetarian dinner for a holiday feast, like Thanksgiving, or really anytime you can get your hands on this winter squash. It’s SO EASY and delicious!
Acorn squash is loaded with antioxidants, like beta-carotene, which may help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C. This winter squash also packs plenty of fiber (nearly 40% of the daily recommendation) and is bursting with essential minerals, like magnesium and potassium, which are thought to promote healthy bones and blood pressure.
This nutrient-rich squash roasts to tender perfection while you prepare the quinoa stuffing on the stove, so it’s a relatively hands-off part of the meal, but it makes for an impressive presentation. I love the contrast of textures and flavors when you put it all together with the stuffing!
Speaking of the stuffing, this easy quinoa stuffing has all the traditional “stuffing flavor” you love, without using bread. It’s perfect for those who need a gluten-free side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and as an added bonus it’s loaded with plant-based protein.
I love using quinoa in recipes because it’s a gluten-free pseudo grain that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. (No matter where you get your protein from, whether it’s meat, beans, or quinoa, your body has to break down that protein into amino acids so it can build the type of protein it can actually utilize.) Quinoa is quick-cooking, ready in just about 15 minutes, so it’s also faster to prepare than my popular Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing.
I hope you’ll enjoy this comforting vegan dinner on a cold night. I think it would be a great make-ahead meal if you want to reheat it later, or you could even enjoy it chilled as a packed lunch.
STARCH | Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-Free, Vegan
This Stuffed Squash recipe makes a great vegan or vegetarian dinner. It's gluten-free, dairy-free, and easy to prepare. Perfect for Thanksgiving!
- 3 acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion , chopped
- 3 stalks celery , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage , minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 ounces mushrooms , sliced
- 1 cup quinoa , rinsed
- 2 cups water
- black pepper , to taste
- 3/4 cup pecans , chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (juice sweetened)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the squash on a large baking sheet cut-side-up, and sprinkle each have generously with salt and pepper. Bake the squash until tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and celery until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, sage, and thyme, and sauté one more minute, just until fragrant.
Add in the mushrooms, quinoa, and water, and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat, allowing the quinoa to cook until tender, and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Remove the stuffing from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans and dried cranberries, if using. When the squash is tender, fill each half with a heaping scoop of stuffing and serve warm. Season with black pepper, if desired.
If you have any leftovers, I prefer to store them separately for easier reheating later. To reheat, warm the squash in the oven for 15 minutes at 350ºF, and while that is heating stir the quinoa in a skillet over medium heat until heated through.
- This dish is properly combined as a STARCH dish if you leave out the cranberries and pecans, but I like to add them in when serving company as I think those additions add a really amazing taste and texture. (And obviously, leave off the pecans if you need a nut-free recipe!)
- This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to swap out the veggies or seasonings in the stuffing, and then just adjust the taste as you go.
- Need a grain-free alternative? Try using cauliflower rice instead of quinoa. (You won’t need as much water in this case.)
- For a lighter alternative, you could also fill portobello mushroom shells instead of a winter squash. (I’d use this Baked Portobello Mushroom recipe to prepare the mushroom shells.)
As always, if you make any modifications to this recipe, please leave a comment below letting us know what worked for you. We can all benefit from your experience!
Reader Feedback: Do you have a favorite vegan or vegetarian dinner that you like to serve at a holiday like Thanksgiving? Feel free to share links to your favorites in the comments below!