This Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash is a delicious and hearty meal, perfect for easy fall and winter dinners! Tender baked acorn squash stuffed with a flavorful mixture full of quinoa, mushrooms, garlic, shallot, and herbs.
Squash stuffed with veggies is never a bad thing, but below is my favorite combination of ingredients for this dish.
- Acorn squash: Squash is the star of the show here. I love acorn squash for this recipe because of it's large center (perfect for filling!) and tender inside. Plus, the whole thing is edible, so you can even eat the skin!
- Quinoa: Quinoa is the base for the filling mixture, and I love the way it gets crispy on top when you bake it with the squash. I use tricolor quinoa but you can use whichever you prefer.
- Mushrooms: This is what really makes the filling hearty. Baby bella mushrooms are my go-to but any variety would be great.
- Garlic: Always brings such great flavor. You can ddd more if you're a big garlic lover.
- Shallot: The onion's milder sibling, I think shallots are great in this dish because they aren't overpowering but still have a bold flavor.
- Green onions & sage: Fresh herbs are a must to finish off the filling mixture!
- Pomegranate seeds: These give the absolute best pop of both color and flavor as a topping. They are totally optional, but I highly recommend them.
- Pepitas: Toasting peppitas also adds a great crunch to this recipe. You can buy roasted and salted, or you can toast yourself.
- Cayenne powder: If you choose to toast your own pepitas, adding a little bit of cayenne gives them a kick.
Step by step instructions
What I love so much about this recipe is that stuffed acorn squash SEEMS like a complicated dish but it's really so easy and perfectly cozy meal.
Prep: Cook the quinoa in advance to make the process even easier. You can also cook the quinoa while the squash cooks.
1. Cook the squash. Cut your squash in half from top to bottom and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle the flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake flesh side down in a 400℉ oven for 30-40 minutes until fork tender.
2. Make the filling. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic for about 5 minutes until tender and the onions are translucent. Then add in the green onion, sage, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine. Transfer to a bowl with the cooked quinoa or add the quinoa right into your skillet and combine.
3. Stuff the squash and bake once more. Once the squash are done cooking, flip them to be flesh side up and put the quinoa filling evenly in all 4 halves. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden on top.
4. Toast the pepitas. In a small skillet over medium low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toast the pepitas until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Toss with salt, pepper, and cayenne powder.
5. Finish with toppings. Top the finished dish with the toasted pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Serve warm.
Tips and tricks
- Add protein: you can easily make this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash even heartier by adding in some protein. If you want to keep it vegetarian, beans would be great. If you don't mind adding meat, I'd recommend your favorite ground meat such as beef or chicken.
- Add cheese: I surprisingly wasn't yearning for cheese in this recipe like I usually am, BUT if you're so inclined to include cheese, I'd recommend mixing about ½ cup of parmesan or pecorino romano into the quinoa filling. You could also sprinkle a little sharp cheddar on top before you put it back into the oven for its second bake. Or even feta or goat cheese on top along with the pepitas and pomegranate seeds.
- Swap the grain: If you don't have or don't like quinoa, you can substitute other grains in such as rice, farro, or barley. Just cook them according to their package instructions.
- Swap the squash: While acorn squash is my favorite for this dish, if you have a different squash on hand or more readily available, you can definitely swap. Good substitutions would be kabocha squash, butternut squash, or delicata squash. Initial squash baking time will vary so bake just until fork tender for whichever variety you use.
- Swap the pepitas: anything crunchy would be great! So if you don't like pepitas, you can use chopped and roasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds. I wouldn't recommend raw nuts for this recipe.
- What to serve with this dish: This dish is a great vegetarian main, so if you're looking for sides I'd recommend a delicious salad or some roasted veggies. You could also serve it with some roasted chicken or pork chops!
- How to pick out the best acorn squash: acorn squash are best in chilly months - so it's optimal to make this recipe in the fall or winter. That being said, they are available all year-round, so regardless of when you're making this look for the squash that has a deep green exterior with splotches of dark orange. Similar to a watermelon's orange splotches, that means great flavor!
- How to know when your squash is done cooking: Your best test of when your squash is done cooking is to poke it with a fork. If the fork goes in easily (aka fork-tender) your squash is ready.
- The easiest way to cut acorn squash: Using a sharp chef's knife, lay the squash on its side and carefully cut in a downward motion vertically (from the stem to the bottom of the squash).
Acorn squash is similar in flavor to a butternut squash, but a bit milder, a little more nutty, and less sweet.
Yes! Most if not all squash varieties are vegan.
They are! They can be roasted for a delicious snack. A recipe from Valerie's Kitchen here.
They are! That's one of the great things about this dish, you can really eat the whole thing.
Sure can. To make this recipe in advance you can do a few things. You can prep ONLY the filling in advance, which can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. OR you can make the filling and roast the squash in advance, which can also stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. To then finish the dish, heat your oven to 400℉ place the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet and stuff with the filling. Bake for about 15 minutes until warmed through and golden.
It's best stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Either in the microwave for a few minutes or in the oven at 300℉ until warmed through (about 15 minutes)
I do not recommend freezing this recipe, but if you must - bring the dish to room temp then freeze in an air tight container. Reheat in the microwave for about 5 minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave).
More squash recipes
- Butternut squash and bacon crostini
- Butternut squash mac and cheese
- Butternut squash and spinach lasagna
Vegetarian Roasted Acorn Squash
- 2 acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 tablespoon olive oil separated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1 cup baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 2 tablespoon green onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup raw pepitas
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
Prep: cook the quinoa
- Make the quinoa according to package directions to yield 1 cup of cooked quinoa. You can also make this while the squash is baking.
Cook the squash:
- Preheat your oven to 400℉.
- Cut your squash in half from top to bottom and place the 4x halves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle the flesh (the orange part) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake flesh side down for 30-40 minutes until fork tender.
Cook the filling:
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic for about 5 minutes until tender and the onions are translucent.
- Add in the green onion, sage, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine.
- Transfer to a bowl with the cooked quinoa or add the quinoa right into your skillet and combine.
Combine and finish:
- Once the squash halves are done cooking, flip them to be flesh side up and put the quinoa filling evenly in all 4 halves. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden on top.
- In a small skillet over medium low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toast the pepitas until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Toss with salt, pepper, and cayenne powder.
- Top the finished dish with the toasted pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Serve warm.