Recipe: Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Consider this customizable squash recipe your new winter go-to.

squash recipe

Photo by Emily McLaughlin

Winter is coming, whether you like it or not. Start preparing for colder nights by adding some hearty and healthy dinners to your recipe repertoire.

This squash recipe is customizable, from the base to the grain to the protein. Start by selecting your favorite squash, like acorn, butternut, delicata, kabocha, or spaghetti squash. Next, select your grain—rice, quinoa, bulgur, just to name a few—and a protein. We opted for acorn squash, quinoa, and chicken sausage, but the options are virtually endless.

Serves two

1 acorn squash, sliced in half, with seeds removed
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water or vegetable stock, for cooking quinoa
1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 links chicken sausage, sliced into half circles
2 cups spinach, chopped
¼ cup pepita seeds or baked acorn squash seeds
½ cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice your acorn squash in half, from stem to the base. Scoop out the seeds and place each half, flesh down, on a baking pan. Poke a couple holes in the rind with a fork. Cover the pan with about ½ inch of water. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender.

Add quinoa and liquid (water or vegetable stock) to a small pot. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside. 

Heat the oil in a skillet, then add the garlic and shallot. Once those become fragrant, add the chicken sausage and cook until seared. Once the chicken starts to brown, add the spinach and allow it to wilt. Add the skillet ingredients, cranberries, and pepita seeds to the quinoa and combine well.

Once the squash is tender, remove it from the oven, drain the water and let it cool enough to handle. Take a fork to the flesh and loosen the squash from the rind to create a fluffy mash. Now, you have two options. Either stir the squash into the quinoa mixture, then stuff it back in the rind, or leave the squash flesh fluffed up in the rind and place the quinoa on top. If desired, add some cheese for serving.