Winter squash are a fun and versatile type of vegetable to cook. They can be grilled, steamed, and roasted, and then mashed, or puréed and made into soup. While these members of the Cucurbitaceae food family (the same family as cucumber and melon) are high in carbohydrates, with nearly 90 percent of their calories coming from carbs, they are surprisingly a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber making them a nutritional powerhouse. In fact, the health benefits of eating acorn squash and other winter squash are vast and range from anti-inflammatory and blood sugar regulation to protecting cardiovascular health.
Like in this recipe, most winter squash recipes require removal of the internal pulp and seeds. Just like pumpkin seeds, squash seeds make a fantastic snack or addition to a salad. Try removing the pulp from the seeds and placing the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly roast them in the oven at 160ºF for 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting the seeds at a low temperature will help preserve their healthy oils.
Although winter squash are available nearly year round, there’s something hearty and comforting about eating them that seems perfect for colder months. This Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe really makes the squash the star. While I think acorn squash is the best squash for stuffing, butternut squash is another option. This dish can stand alone as a vegan-friendly entrée or can be served alongside a nice piece of fish or chicken.
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Winter squash are available nearly year round and there’s something hearty and comforting about eating them that seems perfect for colder months.
- 2 acorn squash
- 1 cup uncooked Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa
- 1 medium brown onion
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 8-ounce package of mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup pine nuts lightly toasted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each acorn squash in half from stem to bottom. Scoop out seeds with spoon. Place squash halves in baking dish and add one inch of water to pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
While roasting the squash, cook quinoa in rice cooker or according to package instructions (here's how to make fluffy quinoa).
Next, dice onion and zucchini and chop mushrooms. Add olive oil to a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms to the pan, cook for 3-4 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add zucchini to the pan and turn the temperature down to medium-low. Season with cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and Italian seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients to combine and add the juice of half a lemon and white wine vinegar to vegetables to deglaze the pan. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add cooked quinoa to vegetable mixture and combine. Fill the inside of each cooked squash half with a heaping portion of the quinoa-vegetable mixture.
About the Author
LeeAnn Weintraub is a registered dietitian offering nutrition counseling and consulting services to individuals, families, and businesses in Southern California and nationwide. LeeAnn is the author of the Everything Glycemic Index Cookbook, 2nd ed. She is the nutrition columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and Daily Breeze. You can find LeeAnn on her website, Twitter and Instagram.