Quinoa stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn SquashI’ve admired these little green pumpkin-looking squash for years, but it wasn’t until my mother dropped off three of these little beauties that I even thought of trying to cook them.  They sat on my counter for days before I started thinking about a recipe.  At first I just thought I’d just use them as fall decoration.  Then, before they started to ruin, I decided I’d roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt, and if they turned out tasteless, I’d throw them out.  No loss since I didn’t pay for them anyway.  To be honest, I didn’t expect to like them at all.  After about 30 minutes of roasting in the oven, my entire house started to smell divine.  I removed them from the oven after about an hour, forked off a bite, and fell in love with this little green squash.  I ate the entire squash like it was candy!  It was just plain roasted squash, and it was to die for.  It wasn’t long before I started brainstorming ways to cook this new found vegetable that I always thought to be just a table decoration.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash uncookedThey are perfect pictures of fall.  I loved photographing them as much as I loved eating them.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash uncooked 2

The first thing I did was slice them in half.  This part wasn’t so easy, but it was manageable.  I was a little worried about cutting myself because I’m terrible with a knife.  That’s not good when you love to cook like I do.  Remove the seeds like you would a cantaloupe, and  I like to scrape a thin layer of the meat off because it’s a little stringy. Roast with olive oil and salt for about an hour.  I waited about selecting the stuffing because I wanted to see what they tasted like after being cooked.  They were like a butternut squash, but not as sweet and more of a nutty flavor.

Quinoa Acorn Squash cut in half

 

 

Another tip before baking, is to cut a small sliver on the bottom of the squash for it to sit level in the dish.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash bottom cut

I knew the stuffing had to be complimentary so I chose to make it with something not as sweet and a little nutty.  I gathered spinach, onions, celery, garlic, and bell peppers.  I knew after sauteing and roasting this would have a hint of sweetness to go with the squash.  And for the nuttiness, I added quinoa and pecans and of course, some mozzarella cheese to bind it all together. If you’re not a fan of quinoa, you need to start being one; however, you may not have any quinoa around so maybe you could substitute a little cooked brown rice.  I’ve never tried it though.                                           (recipe listed at the end of this post)

quinoa stuffed acorn squash ingredientsNext time I make this, I will start making the stuffing mixture while the squash is cooking.

Chop the onions and celery and saute them in a skillet with olive oil until they are soft.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash onions

Start cooking the quinoa according to the directions.

Quinoa Acorn Squash quinoaThis is the brand I use:

Quinoa bag

Add the spinach to the onions and saute until wilted.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash sauteed spinachI roasted these peppers on the top rack while the squash was cooking.  They looked burned, but that’s how you roast a bell pepper.  Peel the skins off and they are delicious.  Chop them into small pieces.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash peppers

 

 

acorn squash chopped pecans

Chop the pecans and add all of the ingredients to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.  I used white pepper.

Acorn squash stuffingWhen it’s mixed thoroughly remove from the heat and add the mozzarella cheese.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash roasted squash halfWhen the squash is cooked, use a knife to slice into the meat.  Or, you could fork it so the stuffing will adhere to the squash.  Stuff these little squash bowls with heaping amounts of stuffing.  Bake in the oven for another 20 minutes. I sprinkled a little  olive oil on them first because I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t dry out, but this may not be necessary if you’re trying to cut calories.  And, if you’re trying to cut calories, you probably should leave off the cheese or at least cut the amount.  It’s a shame that everything tastes better with cheese!

By this time your house smells deliciously like fall, but after a few more minutes of baking these in the oven, the smells will pull everyone into the kitchen.  It’s divine and so, so comforting.  These will be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash 2

There wasn’t a dissatisfied person in my house because these squash just melt in your mouth.  To really get the full experience, scrape a little bit of the squash into your fork with each bite.  It’s a healthy little meal  all in one squash bowl.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash fork 2And soon the bowl is empty.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash empty

With this recipe I found a new use for my fall table decoration.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash 3

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 3 acorn squash
  • 5 ounces of quinoa
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • ½ cup of pecans
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley (2 T for the mixture, 1 T to sprinkle after cooked)
  • salt and white pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Scrape the insides with a spoon to remove the stringy parts.
  2. Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake the squash for about an hour at 350 degrees.
  4. Slice 2 bell peppers, remove seeds, and roast with the squash on the top rack of the oven. Roast them until the skins look burned. This takes about 15 minutes. Just keep checking until it looks ready. Set aside to cool.
  5. While the squash is baking, saute the onion, garlic, and celery in a large skillet.
  6. When the onion is tender, add the spinach. Cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Cook quinoa according to the package directions.
  8. Chop the pecans, roughly.
  9. Remove the skins of the peppers and chop them into small pieces.
  10. Add the peppers, pecans, and cooked quinoa to the skillet of spinach. Stir until blended.
  11. Stir in the cheese and parsley.
  12. Using a large spoon, put approximately 2 scoops of stuffing into each squash. It should be slightly heaping.
  13. Bake stuffed squash for 20 minutes on 350 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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