Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash is a healthy vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish.

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ok, so if you really know your vegetables, you’ll notice that those guys in front are actually Jester Squash and not Acorn Squash. Technicalities aside, they work just as well for roasting and stuffing. Something I really love about my local Farmhouse Delivery is that vegetable varieties show up that even I – the girl that literally wrote a book about vegetables – have to occasionally Google.

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

This recipe is comfort food on the lighter side. Sometimes fall foods make me feel just so darn full, so what I did to avoid a near-food coma situation was stuff the squashes with a light & bright quinoa salad. Serve these to your veggie friends at Thanksgiving, or make them for yourself on a weeknight. The salad can be made ahead of time, so this recipe is really pretty easy to throw together.

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

Step 1: Scoop out and roast the squash.

Step 2: Make the salad. This one is made with quinoa, spinach, apples, pomegranates, and toasted pecans. It’s tossed with a zippy lemon-shallot-dijon vinaigrette that I make at the bottom of the bowl before adding the rest of the salad ingredients.

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

Step 3: Stuff!

Since this recipe is half-salad, I suggest serving it at room temperature with an extra drizzle of olive oil or (optional) the maple-tahini sauce from this recipe. If you’re not vegan, some crumbled feta cheese would be delicious.

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

4.9 from 9 reviews

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 8
  • 4 acorn squash
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ¼ cups chopped toasted pecans
  • ¼ cup cranberries and/or pomegranate seeds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • optional: Maple Tahini Sauce from this recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice each acorn squash in half and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Halfway through, flip the squash so that it's facing cut side up.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients - the olive oil, shallot, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, quinoa, spinach, parsley, apple, pecans, and cranberries - and mix well. Season to taste.
  3. Fill the acorn squash halves with the salad and drizzle each with olive oil, or serve with tahini sauce, if desired.
tip: whenever I make stuffed squash, I like to slightly over-season the filling so that it's still very flavorful when you eat it together with the squash.

Crumbled feta cheese would also be delicious here!

Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Janice

    Hi. I love this recipe and have a question. It is more difficult for me to digest uncooked shallots and garlic. For this recipe, I cooked these together with the spinach. It came tasting well and it seemed that it needed a bit more flavor. I wonder if should add more garlic and shallots if cooking it. Any advise?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      If you prefer a stronger flavor, feel free to add another garlic clove and/or more shallot. Cooking them would soften their bite. So glad you love the recipe!

  2. Jan G.

    Although my cut acorn squash didn’t look as nicely shaped as yours (I think next time I need to cut them crosswise instead of lengthwise), they came out delicious! I loved the maple tahini sauce drizzled on top, too! My husband gave them an emphatic 5 stars, and I’d have to agree! Thank you, Jeanine!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Elisa

    I made this for Thanksgiving 2 days ago and I am sharing my experience to prevent anyone else making my mistake…
    I taste tested the filling once it was all put together and thought, hhmmm, it still needs a little something. My mom recommended more onion and garlic. More onion and garlic was added. Perfect! Until 4 hours later when we all sat to table to eat dinner. Over time, the shallot had quintupled in its presence! So beware! Do NOT go by how it tastes directly after putting it all together. The flavor of this improves and increases greatly with each passing hour. Taste test right before serving or taste test just for acceptable salt levels. I ended up being able to save this wonderful dish by adding more quinoa, spinach, apple and even tossed in another 1/4C pomegranate seeds and a bit of my lemon infused garlic oil (so very glad I always make extra quinoa to toss in the fridge for later meals!). Hope this helps someone else out there!
    Meanwhile, I’ve already made this for our second Thanksgiving we are having today… EXACTLY as it is written 😉

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Elisa, ha, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe enough to make it twice 🙂

      • Elisa

        Jeanine, it has already been declared a must-have for regular meals in my household! My sister can’t believe how easy it is to make 🙂 Thank you so very much for your very clever and tasty recipes that have helped my family and I go Whole Food Plant Based!

  4. Christine

    I loved this dish- made it for dinner tonight (no special occasion) and it was great. I would say that the cooking time (for me) on the acorn squash was more like 60 mins. Thank you! – delish!

  5. Suzette

    I really loved this. I sort of fudged the dressing starting with juice of one lemon, and I lightly sauteed the garlic in a spritz of olive oil first so that it wouldn’t be raw. I wanted to keep eating!

  6. Jennifer

    This was s crowd pleaser for both my vegetarian and hunter in-laws when they were visiting around Thanksgiving. It was easy to make, delicious and filling.

  7. I love fall foods, but they make me so darn full sometimes too. Haha! I have no idea why. I love winter squash including acorn squash and I’ve been loving quinoa a lot lately. This is perfect for Thanksgiving or any fall gatherings.

  8. This dish is home cooking on the lighter side. Often fall foods make me really feel so darn full, so what I did to prevent a near-food coma situation was stuff the squashes with a light & bright quinoa salad. I served these to my veggie friends on Thanksgiving.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.