Stuffed Acorn Squash for Thanksgiving

Warm little boats of acorn squash goodness.

Stuffed Acorn Squash / Especially Edible

Happy Thanksgiving! I wish I could tell you that I roasted a turkey, whipped up a sweet potato casserole, and made Martha Stewart-esque stuffing from fresh breadcrumbs. But that would be a lie. My father did the turkey and the stuffing (or the “dressing,” as folks in some parts of the country say), and my mother burned the sweet potatoes all on her own. What did I do? Stuffed acorn squash, to continue my obsession with any recipe including winter squash, and a sugar-free pumpkin pie for my diabetic grandfather. Neither project was too taxing – I can generally handle a pie as long as I don’t have to figure out how to elegantly drape the top crust over a pile of fruit, and the stuffed squash came together quite easily after my grandfather put some muscle into the halving the little buggers with a really, really big knife. (I am not the type to put up with damsels in distress, but I admit I was standing there with the knife stuck half-in and half-out of the squash, and no amount of feeble pulling and tugging was going to make it move.)

Stuffed Acorn Squash / Especially Edible

The pie was an adaptation of this recipe I made several months ago, but the stuffed squash were an adaptation of a recipe I found on Epicurious. (Semi-relevant pet peeve: If you’re going to write a review of a recipe, write a review of that recipe. Writing “great recipe!” and then enumerating all the changes – pork sausage instead of tofu, cherries instead of cranberries, some endangered species of clown fish instead of tuna from a can – you made means you thought the recipe as written sucked. Don’t tell me about what a “terrific base” the recipe provided unless you are as much a chef as the person who created it.)

Stuffed Acorn Squash / Especially Edible

I’ve been roasting acorn squash for awhile now, then scooping out the flesh to make muffins or a variation on these pumpkin oatmeal cookies. But I’d never used the whole squash, skin and all, until today. Instead of slicing the little guy around the circumference, I (or rather, my much stronger grandfather) cut it in half from end-to-end, making two shallow golden boats from each acorn squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash / Especially Edible

I did “adapt” the Epicurious recipe. I chose it partly because it was one of the few recipes for stuffed squash that didn’t include sausage. I’m not vegetarian by any means, but I do think the turkey should be front and center on Thanksgiving; there’s no need to add extraneous meats. (I grew up with broccoli-wild rice stuffing inside the turkey, so adding sausage to a Thanksgiving dinner feels alien to me.) I figured that, if everyone else had to change the Epicurious to make it edible, I ought to give it a go myself. I substituted quinoa for the breadcrumbs and added a healthy handful of parmesan cheese to each stuffing-filled boat. The results may not have been as classic a Thanksgiving recipe as pumpkin pie, but they were decidedly unique and more beautiful.

Stuffed Acorn Squash / Especially Edible

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup hot water

6 Tbs. butter

8 oz. fresh wild mushrooms (e.g. cremini), stemmed and chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. dried rubbed sage

1 Tbs. fresh sage, minced

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 425.

Combine cranberries and hot water in a small bowl and let sit while quinoa cooks.

Cook quinoa in 2 cups broth for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Set aside to cool.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute mushrooms, onion, and sage until onions begin to soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain cranberries and combine them with the stuffing mixture. Mix in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Mist squash with cooking spray and place two halves cut-side down in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, piercing the wrap with a knife in several places to let the steam escape. Microwave for 10 minutes on high power. When cooked, season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the other two halves.

Spoon stuffing mixture into squash halves. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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