I recently tried this recipe out from Cookie and Kate. I made a couple of modifications and it was a great hit. I love how the red of the cranberries and the green of the kale makes this a festive holiday dish. And the leftover quinoa stuffing (I added garbanzos), combined with additional chopped kale made a great salad as well!
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened
- 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (about 2 scallions)
- 1/4 cup kale, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled or feta (optional)
- 14 oz garbanzo beans, cooked (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash the acorn squash and using a sharp chef's nice, cut it in half from the stem to the base. Scoop out the seeds and strings and discard (I toss them into our compost crock https://amzn.to/3naBqf3). Place the squash halves cut side up on on a baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet with Parchment paper for easier cleanup). Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the squash. Then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the squash. Rub the oil into the fleshy cut sides of the squash, and then turn them over so the cut sides are down and the squash are sitting flat on the baking sheet. Bake about 30-45 minutes, until the squash flesh is cooked and easily pierced by a fork. Leave the oven on.
While the squash is cooking, prepare the quinoa stuffing. Rinse the quinoa and combine with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered until water is absorbed, about 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then uncover and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork.
In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until golden on the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the quinoa and cranberry mixture, toasted pepitas, chopped scallions, kale, garlic, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until well mixed and add additional salt to taste.
Option 1: The original recipe calls for Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. If the quinoa mixture is still how, allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding the cheese. Gently stir to combine. Note: I made this with only Parmesan and it tasted great! You can keep both out to make this vegan or use vegan cheese.
Option 2: To add more protein, add in 1 can (or 1-1/2 cups cooked) garbanzo beans. This may leave extra stuffing left over which actually tastes great as a salad on its own – just add a little more chopped kale and voila!
Take the cooked squash out of the oven and turn them so the cut sides are facing up. Spoon the stuffing mixture carefully into the squash halves. Then return the squash to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until the stuffing is turning golden.