07 - quinoa stuffed acorn squash
Another post for the vegetarians here, this time more seasonal - quinoa stuffed acorn squash. I love quinoa. It’s easy to make, it has a wonderful texture, and did you know it is a complete protein? I do so many things with it - I make a quinoa burger, I make cold quinoa salads, I make warm veggie filled pilafs. And now, I stuff it inside of acorn squash!
I usually do a meat heavy stuffing for acorn squash, because savory, rich meat is a great compliment to sweet and silky squash, but I am trying to cook a little lighter these days, and am trying to be creative with my vegetarian meal planning. So after buying a few adorable acorn squash at the market, I brainstormed and wrote out a basic recipe - roast squash, saute mushrooms and shallots, add quinoa and stock and cook, then add spinach and dried cranberries, stuff it into squash, top with crumbly cheese - and then I made it one night for my mom. After dinner I googled “stuffed acorn squash recipe” and found this. My recipe is just different enough, and obviously better, so I feel like it is still a valuable addition to the internet. I hope you agree, and I hope that you make this for your mother, too. She’ll love it.
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 6 smallish acorn squash, tops cut off and stringy seedy guts removed (OR 3 medium to large ones, sliced in half, also guts removed) (I also slice a little off the bottom to help them sit without rolling or wobbling)
- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh minced)
- 2 cups veggie broth, chicken broth, or water
- 1 bunch of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup crumbled cheese, such as parmesan or romano
Preheat your oven to 400. Prepare your squash and arrange in a large baking dish large enough to hold them all upright. (Here’s a pro tip - I use a serrated grapefruit spoon to seed my squash, making it super fast and easy.) Add 1/2 tbsp of butter to each squash, put the lids back on, cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes until soft but still with a little give when pierced with a knife.
MEANWHILE, saute your shallots in a large skillet over medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms and increase the heat to medium high. Cook until the mushrooms are browning and any liquid is evaporated, but be careful not to burn anything. Add a little more olive oil if needed. Add the quinoa, thyme, and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is soft but still has bite, about 15 minutes. If there is still liquid in the pan, uncover and increase heat until evaporated. Add the spinach and the cranberries, stir for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
Stuff your squash with as much filling as they will hold without packing it in too tightly. Top with a little cheese and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown. Enjoy!