Quinoa vegetarian stuffed acorn squash is a healthy and delicious weeknight meal. Roasted acorn squash is stuffed with zesty citrus-flavored quinoa, garlic balsamic caramelized mushrooms, goat cheese, and cranberries. This easy recipe is gluten-free and done in less than one hour!
Why you'll love this recipe
This vegetarian stuffed squash recipe is great for a Meatless Monday dinner or really any weeknight dinner. It takes less than one hour to cook, and you can prepare the quinoa and filling while the acorn squash roasts in the oven, so that everything is ready at the same time.
The quinoa steps it up a notch and is transformed by the citrus and zesty flavors infused by the orange juice and zest. The mushrooms are caramelized with garlic and balsamic vinegar that pairs beautifully with the citrusy quinoa, creamy goat cheese, and the sweet dried cranberries.
Acorn squash is incredibly nutritious and is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, potassium, and magnesium. One cup of acorn squash also has 9 grams of fiber (source). This recipe is also vegetarian and gluten-free. And makes for delicious leftovers that are easy to reheat. What's not to love?
- Acorn squash
- Orange zest + juice
- Olive oil, salt, and thyme
- Balsamic vinegar
- Goat cheese
- Dried cranberries
How to make vegetarian stuffed acorn squash
Step 1: Roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with olive oil and salt. Place the squash halves on the baking sheet, with the cut sides up. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Step 2: Cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water. Combine quinoa, orange juice, orange zest, and 1½ cups of water in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Step 3: Make the filling. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and thyme, and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip the mushrooms over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Stuff the acorn squash. In the pan, stir in quinoa, cranberries, and goat cheese. Stuff the acorn squash halves evenly with the veggie-quinoa filling. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.
You can store this stuffed acorn squash in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
- Rinse the quinoa with a fine mesh strainer before cooking to get rid of the saponins. Saponins are naturally found in quinoa but have a bitter taste.
- The best quinoa to liquid ratio: The best quinoa to liquid ratio is 1:2 (1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid). This allows the quinoa to cook properly without being too dry. The recipe calls for the juice of 1 orange, which is about ½ cup - that's why you only need to add 1½ cups of water.
- Don't cover the pot until after all of the liquid has absorbed and you've turned off the heat. Otherwise, it can get mushy and overcooked.
- How to zest an orange: To zest the orange, use a microplane or use a fine grater with small holes. Rinse and dry the orange first and only grate the orange outer part of the orange. The inner white parts taste bitter, so you'll want to avoid that.
Variations and substitutions
This quinoa stuffed acorn squash recipe is already vegetarian, gluten-free, and nut-free, but I've added a few variations that you can make to make it work for other dietary restrictions or any preferences you may have!
- Make it dairy-free and vegan: Omit the goat cheese. If you want the same creamy texture that goat cheese provides, you can add a vegan "cream cheese" alternative.
- Make it gluten-free: The ingredients in this recipe are inherently gluten-free, but if you're worried about cross-contact, check the label of the quinoa you're using to ensure it's labeled "certified gluten-free."
- Add nuts: Toasted sliced almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts would taste wonderful in this recipe.
What to serve with quinoa stuffed acorn squash
This is a pretty hearty dish on its own, but if you want to make it even more filling, I recommend serving it with a salad, a side of veggies, or a source of protein like salmon. Try serving it alongside maple balsamic Brussels sprouts, a kale Brussels sprout salad, or paprika salmon.
If you made this recipe, I’d love to see your creation! Don’t forget to snap a picture and tag me @thebalancedbite on Instagram. Follow along on Pinterest and Facebook for more healthy & tasty recipes!
More vegetarian squash recipes:
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad
- Butternut Squash and Farro Salad
- Lemon Ricotta Butternut Squash Toast
- Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash
- Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls
- Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi
Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 4 medium acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup quinoa
- Zest and juice from 1 orange
- 1½ cup water
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces mushrooms, halved and sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- ¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (garnish) optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
- Place the squash halves cut-side-up on the baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until it's fork-tender. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water. Combine quinoa, orange juice, orange zest, and 1½ cups of water in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed completely. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork.
- While the acorn squash and quinoa are cooking, heat oil in a medium-large pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and thyme, and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip mushrooms over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in quinoa, cranberries, and the goat cheese.
- Add the filling evenly into the acorn squash halves. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.
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