Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash is a stunning main dish for any holiday table. Give the traditional Thanksgiving dinner a vegetable centric makeover when you serve these hearty winter squash filled with seasoned quinoa, chickpeas, and tomatoes.
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Vegan main dishes for Thanksgiving
I remember the first time I prepared a vegan holiday meal for my friends and family, I struggled with what to serve as the main course.
Sure, there are lots of options these days like Tofurky roast and Gardein Stuffed Turk'y. But for someone like myself with a gluten sensitivity, these won't work for me.
The first year I decided to serve One Ingredient Chef's Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie, which I thought was absolutely delectable.
After that, I started making my favorite Lentil Meatloaf Muffins.
They are always a big hit. Plus everyone fights over the leftovers the next day.
But then I decided I wanted to come up with something a little different and which wasn't based on lentils, in case any of my guests didn't love them as much as I do.
And not only do these Mediterranean inspired Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash fit the bill, they are gorgeous and incredibly easy to make.
How to bake acorn squash in the oven
Since we'll be adding a quinoa stuffing mixture to the squash, we first want to cook them almost all the way through in the oven.
After slicing and removing the seeds, place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet.
I like to first line it with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
Once the squash are nearly tender, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Then carefully turn the halves over so they are cut side up and ready for stuffing.
Acorn Squash FAQ
Should you eat the skin of acorn squash?
While you may eat the cooked skin, I personally don't enjoy the texture. When it comes to winter squash, the only skin I eat is from delicata. For more information about squash skin, check out The Winter Squash Skins That Are Edible (and Those That Are Not).
How do you store acorn squash?
Uncut acorn squash should be stored in a cool dark place for up to a month. There's no need to refrigerate them. In fact, they will last longer if they aren't refrigerated.
If the squash is sliced but still raw, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Can acorn squash spoil?
Yes. If you cut open the squash and it's gray or slimy, toss it out.
How do you cut an acorn squash in half?
Acorn squash can be very tough to slice. My favorite method is to place them in the oven directly on a rack while the oven is coming up to temperature.
Once the oven is heated, carefully remove the squash. You should be able to slice it open much easier after a few minutes when it's cool enough to handle.
How do you store cooked acorn squash?
Cooked acorn squash can be stored in a covered container and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 12 months.
How to make quinoa stuffing
To make the filling for the baked winter squash, you will need the following ingredients:
- Fresh garlic
- Cooked quinoa (I've included both stove top and Instant Pot electric pressure cooker instructions in the recipe.)
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Lemon juice
- Fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
And it doesn't take much time to prepare.
- Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.
- Add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon juice, and thyme leaves and mix everything together.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated through and the tomatoes are soft.
Then it's time to spoon the filling into the acorn squash halves and let them bake for a few more minutes until tender.
And dinner is ready!
For a regular weeknight, I enjoy this recipe as a complete meal served with a simple green salad and my go-to Dijon mustard salad dressing.
But these baked winter squash are delicious with a variety of accompaniments.
While you may not want to serve these quinoa stuffed acorn squash with a side of quinoa, they go well with most other side dishes.
I particularly enjoy them with these recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving or family dinners:
Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
This recipe serves 8 people, but you can easily prepare it for more or less.
And the filling can be made in advance and added to the squash the day you are serving it.
Leftovers will last refrigerated for up to 3 days.
In addition, I often enjoy the filling as a dish on its own, so you may want to make some extra and freeze it for later.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 4 acorn squash
- ½ cup quinoa, (or 1½ cups cooked)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- ½ cup celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can chickpeas, (15 ounces or 1½ cups) rinsed and drained
- 10 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme , (leaves removed from the stems)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the uncut acorn squash in the oven directly on the center rack. Turn on the oven to preheat to 400° F. Allow the squash to remain in the oven while it heats up. Once the oven reaches 400°, carefully remove the squash using oven mitts. Allow the squash to rest until they are cool enough to handle. Then slice each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds (or save for roasting later.)
- Place the squash on a baking sheet (line with parchment paper for easier cleanup) cut side down. Bake the squash for 40 minutes until the squash are nearly tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully turn the squash halves over so they are cup side up.
- Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa. First rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer. Add the quinoa and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed.Or to prepare in an Instant Pot pressure cooker, place the rinsed quinoa and ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water in the liner. Close and lock the lid. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.Set aside the cooked quinoa.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent.
- Add the carrots and celery and saute until soft.
- Then add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Next add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon juice, and thyme and stir to combine.
- Cook until all the ingredients are heated through and the tomatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
- Spoon the quinoa mixture into the squash halves. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash are tender.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.