Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash is the perfect healthy dinner for the holiday season and beyond. The tender acorn squash stuffed with a delicious quinoa and mushroom filling and topped with feta is incredibly filling and satisfying.
(This Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe was originally published in February 2011, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2017.)
Soooo, who's sick of turkey and stuffing yet? I'm actually not! I think I could happily eat turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce sandwiches with a side of sweet potato soufflé every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. But sadly, my leftovers are officially gone and I'm being forced to move on.
I'm trying my best to make some super healthy dinners from now until Christmas so as to not get stuck in that holiday season spiral of too much indulgence. If you know me, you know that I'm not the type to deprive myself and I'll pretty much never say no to a cookie, burger, or piece of pizza if I want it; which means, I try to pack in the veggies and good stuff when I can.
Honestly, I don't actually feel like the holidays are too much more indulgent than the rest of the year for me; I go a little crazy on days that call for it (parties, dessert recipe development, festive dinners, etc.) and then go in healthy on the other days. And after that long Thanksgiving weekend packed with party foods, I'm ready for a healthy start to the new week.
I actually first made this recipe for Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash back in 2011, but I've gone back and tweaked it a bit and updated the photos. Can we talk about how awesome it is that quinoa has stuck around for so long? Everyone seemed to think it was a sort of trendy food when it first came on the scene, but they quickly discovered that it was healthy, satisfying, and worth keeping in a nutritious diet.
QUINOA-STUFFED ACORN SQUASH RECIPE
Not only is this a super healthy, but it's also a meatless meal! But don't worry, it's been tested by true carnivores. Like my husband. He's still totally skeptical if I tell him we're having a "meatless" meal, but if I don't mention it, I don't even think he notices it. And a lot of that is thanks to the quinoa. I'm sure mushrooms help in this stuffed acorn squash, too, since they have a meaty consistency and are often used as a substitute.
It's also an incredibly easy dinner to put together, provided you have a little bit of time to roast the acorn squash (and a sharp knife to cut it!). One change I made in this recipe update is to increase the servings to four rather than two. Some of you may have families of four you want to feed, but for others (like me!), I just love having healthy leftovers around the house.
So, Chris and I were able to eat Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash for dinner one night and then each had an awesome lunch the next day, too.
While the acorn squash is baking, you'll prepare the quinoa. And sauté the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and habanero peppers. Then stir in the quinoa, spinach, parsley, and feta cheese in.
Stuff those beautiful acorn squash halves and top with dried cranberries if you want. I wanted.
I especially love meals like this because they take time to eat and I don't gobble them down in an instant. The filling is best eaten together with bites of the squash. And then once the filling is gone, you need to really dig into that squash flesh.
I'm pretty sure quinoa-stuffed acorn squash is what fall and winter is all about! Or any kind of stuffed squash, really. Hopefully that's not just me. But seriously, I love that my grocery store has a whole aisle devoted to squash at this time of year.
The options are really endless with stuffed acorn squash and you can include all kinds of delicious ingredients in the filling. I'm sure this won't be the last variation I make this year. Of course, you could definitely add meat (sausage would be delicious!) or some more indulgent ingredients, too. Feta is as crazy as I got here; I just love how you can add a tiny bit and get tons of flavor from it.
I obviously can't forget about the habanero pepper either. That packs in a ton of flavor and a little spice. If you can't find habanero or don't like it, you can use jalapeño. Even if you're not crazy about heat, I recommend using the peppers for flavor; just remove the seeds.
I know the holiday season can be crazy for a lot of people, but it's not like you're out every single night of the week partying it up. You likely still have plenty of quieter evenings at home, making out your Christmas cards or frantically online shopping for last minute gifts (or, you know, watching cheesy holiday Hallmark movies) when the time is perfectly right for a healthy holiday season dinner.
And since today is Cyber Monday, something tells me many of you will be running home from work to settle on your couch and try to take advantage of some crazy good deals. Unless you're just doing it AT work. Which is totally cool. No judgment here.
I'm super excited to say that I am almost done with my holiday shopping. Of course, I think I say that at this time every single year and then end up freaking out about the final items I need with no time to spare. Perhaps I'll get a little more done tonight with a healthy dinner by my side. Have you found any awesome deals today??
Oh, just one more question... Do you think it would be bad to eat this Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash with a large glass of eggnog?
'Tis the season!!
Are you trying to get in some healthy eats this holiday season?
If you're looking for another healthy squash recipe, I'm still swooning over my Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup recipe! Grilled cheese croutons optional... But I mean, it is the holiday season. And this Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash is also a delicious stuffed squash recipe... Plus it involves ground beef! And I'm VERY into this Crab-Stuffed Acorn Squash from Dish on Fish!
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 halved and seeded acorn squash
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ¾ tsp salt, divided
- ¾ tsp pepper, divided
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups reduced-fat vegetable stock (can also use water)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped habanero pepper (remove seeds for less heat)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta, plus more for topping
- 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus more for topping
- Dried cranberries for topping, optional
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place squash halves on baking sheet. Put ½ Tbsp butter in each acorn squash half and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Roast squash for about 45 minutes, until it's tender to the fork.
- While the squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Bring quinoa and vegetable stock or water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, lower to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 15 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic, and habanero pepper and sauté while occasionally stirring for about 7 minutes, until beginning to brown. Sprinkle about ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper into mixture and squeeze lemon juice over.
- Turn heat to low and add the cooked quinoa to the veggie mixture. Add in spinach and stir to combine and wilt spinach a bit. Stir in feta cheese and parsley.
- Spoon quinoa mixture into acorn squash halves and top with additional feta and parsley. Add dried cranberries, if desired.
emily @ the happy home says
holy yum! your Valentine's Dinner sounds fab, but you've got me drooling with this guy!
i havent had acorn squash in TWO LONG years!
sometimes i love looking at the ingredients pic because we buy a lot of the same thigns (im a food dork LOL)
Camels & Chocolate says
Holy mother of Christmas, that sounds aaaaaamazing. I might have to get on this, stat.
Congrats on the news feature! That is super exciting. And your dinner sounds AMAZING! I would have been all over that lobster mac and cheese- yum yum! I love stuffed squash of all varieties. This looks fab. I am actually thinking of hitting up CVS to get some candy 🙂 I didn't really indulge 😉
Sassy Molassy says
Mmm...those look great! I also love making rice/bean stuffed bell peppers. So fun to have the dish/bowl edible!
Fun and Fearless in Beantown says
I got a box of some AMAZING truffles at Beacon Hill Chocolates and I definitely had way too many last night!
Your Valentine's Day meal sounds fantastic! The dipping sauces! We went out for gelato after dinner and shared 3 flavors-sea salt caramel, raspberry lavender and chocolate cocoa nib. It was sooo good.
Love the healthy option meal! Sounds like a nice follow-up to overindulgence.
Quinoa, feta and squash sound sooo good together. Did you take pics of your Fireplace meal? I MUST try those cider donuts you mentioned.
Jen @ keepitsimplefoods.com says
Love the healthy contrast to V-day sugar madness. I did broccoli chips on my blog- hey, a girl's gotta have her roughage.
I've been to the Fireplace once for lunch and I remember enjoying it. Glad you guys had a great meal 🙂 I love quinoa and winter squash, so the idea of stuffing one in the other definitely has my attention, haha. Great looking recipe.
Your Valentine's dinner sounds sooooo yummy! As does this quinoa. I can't step away from squash for some reason.
Elizabeth- You know me, I always photography my awesome restaurant meals 🙂 But since it was Valentine's Day, I was trying to refrain from pulling out the camera every course... I do kind of regret it now. The doughnuts were awesome!! Such a unique idea on their part!
almond health benefits says
Really good content all the best! Keep Working! =)
Wow, this stuffed acorn with quinoa looks delicious, perfect meal 🙂
[email protected] says
Hey TV celebrities! 🙂 Congratulations on the show, VERY exciting! We had a very low key Valentine's Day due to a crazy weekend and a late work night on Sunday. It was nice, takeout, Big Love, and early to bed!
Congrats on Chronicle! So cool!! Your dinner looks deliciously healthy and I've been looking for some good quinoa recipes 🙂
Hey you amazing TV Celebs! Watching y'all today was awesome! And this sounds amazing! I can not wait to try it! 🙂
Lauren at KeepItSweet says
This looks like a terrific "detox" meal to me! I have a major weakness on post-holiday candy sales so I need to stay out of CVS for a few days;-)
I figured that was the case 😉 Guess I'll just have to go get them for myself! By the way, after reading this post, I checked out the Fireplace's dessert menu. Holy wow. I want everything on it.
I have yet to experience cooking with Quinoa..this looks super fantastic!
your squash looks delish! and i love quinoa so much, i'm sure i would love this recipe. 🙂
i'm totally going to see if target has any more dark chocolate on clearance!
Amanda @ The Artsy Kitchen says
yum, that look super delicious and filling too!! I really love those little miniature reese's esp. the dark chocolate ones yum!
i love it
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
I love doing stuffed squash because it's such a filling, healthy entree. And, of course, I'm a huge fan of quinoa... always seems to leave me satisfied!
Nicole Johnson says
Loved this recipe! I roasted the squash at 425 to soften it up a bit. Will become a Fall staple! Will share with veggie loving friends! Thank you!
I just made this recipe tonight for dinner, and boy was it delicious. Thanks so much for the great recipe and a terrific dinner!
This recipe was amazing!!! I loved it.
I too loved this recipe!!
Thanks to you, we had a fabulous Fall Meatless Monday meal last night! I also made a few modifications: doubled the lemon juice, doubled the mushrooms, reduced the quinoa to 3/4 cup, then added some dried cranberries (we had a random snack package of Craisins), and added about 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. Yum!
PS. My husband thanks you for the Habaneros- I left in the seeds. Wow!
This was delicious! Thank you!!!
Laura Bruzzese says
This looks great! We are trying it tomorrow. Yum, thanks for sharing!
Just found your recipe while browsing for some new quinoa recipes, and have my squash stuffed and ready for dinner tonight. I don't eat cheese, so i modified a bit, and it is delicious. I sauteed half of the onion and garlic and added it to the veg broth while cooking the quinoa to up the flavor there a bit. Then I cooked the other half with the mushrooms and added TJ soy chorizo. It sounds like you ate your cold or room temp as a salad? I'm planning to bake these before serving. Amazing! Thanks!
Made this tonight and it was amazing. All of the flavors blended perfectly together! Thanks so much 🙂
Jenn Rivers says
I found this recipe because I had gotten an acorn squash from my local CSA share and needed a way to use it up. I tried this last night and it was sooooooo good! I changed it slightly due to lack of a few ingredients. Instead of habanero peppers i used a jalapeno. I swapped mushrooms for chopped zucchini and i didnt add any parsley. It still came out amazing! I will be saving this one for the recipe book. 🙂
Made this tonight and it was definitely the most impressive looking thing I've made recently. Love the fall flavors! I omitted the feta and pepper, added some cumin and chile powder and it was really good and healthy! The parsley was a little strong (I may have added too much), but it was still awesome!
Just made this for dinner and really enjoyed it! I omitted the mushroom, habaneros, and fresh parsley (didn't have any on hand), but added red bell pepper. Delicious and healthy 🙂
I made this tonight. I added ground turkey meat since i was making 3 acorn squash and only put the habanero pepper in my husbands. It was DELISH! Even the kids loved it!
I am going to be trying this recipe tonight but don't want the feta. Would mozzarella work just as well? Also using a homemade salsa instead of the habanero.
Raegan- Yes! I think mozzarella would be great. Let me know how it is 🙂
This was a great recipe. I made this for dinner and my boyfriend loved it. Finding recipes like this are making him eat more vegetables.
This was delish! I used baby portabella muschrooms, used kale instead of spinach, cayenettas instead of habaneros, threw in a green tomato from the garden, and everything else as the recipe called for. The color was lovely.
Scott S. says
This looks amazing. I'm going to try it tonight topped with goat cheese!
Jess @ Sweetest Menu says
I am ALWAYS on the hunt for easy veggie meals, this looks amazing Sues! Love the idea of stuffing a squash. Your photos are beautiful!!
Alena Brenda says
hey, you are amazing tv celebrity and i am following you from last few months to make learn from you. You and your recipes are awesome.
Alyssa @ My Sequined Life says
Oh I LOOOOVE this!! I definitely want to mix in some healthier meals this season. Stuffed acorn squash sounds like the perfect idea!!
Healthy and delicious! Beautiful presentation!!