Hearty roasted acorn squash halves filled with a Mediterranean quinoa-chickpea mixture are the perfect Thanksgiving main dish. Not only are they stunning and full of flavor, Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash are easy to make and can be prepped in advance.
The traditional holiday dinner gets a vegetable-centric makeover when you serve these mild and buttery winter squash filled with seasoned quinoa, chickpeas, and tomatoes. While my go-to main for Thanksgiving is Lentil Meatloaf Muffins, this colorful entree is another seasonal favorite.
And though it may seem like a complicated dish to prepare, it's actually quite easy. Plus you can save time by cooking the quinoa a few days in advance, or by making the quinoa stuffing for the squash ahead of time.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's an elegant plant-based main course that's also a complete meal.
- The ingredients are easy to find at major supermarkets.
- The components are simple to make and can be prepped in advance.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Acorn squash
- Olive oil
- Fresh garlic
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Lemon juice
- Fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
How many squash should you buy?
Each one will feed two people. This Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe calls for four, which makes eight servings. Feel free to make more or less, depending on how many guests you're serving.
Slicing open winter squash can be difficult since they are very hard. To make it easier, place the uncut squash in the oven directly on the center rack.
Turn on the oven to preheat. Allow the squash to remain in the oven while it heats up.
As soon as the oven is heated up to temperature, 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.
- Step 1: Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Step 2: Place the halves cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast.
- Step 3: Once the squash are nearly tender, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Carefully turn the halves over so they are cut side up and ready for stuffing.
- Step 4: While the squash is roasting in the oven, prepare the quinoa in a pot on the stove or in an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. (Instructions for both methods are provided in the recipe at the bottom of this post.)
- Step 5: Saute the onion until soft and slightly translucent.
- Step 6: Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and saute until tender.
- Step 7: Add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon juice, and thyme leaves and mix everything together.
- Step 8: Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated through and the tomatoes are soft.
- Step 9: Spoon the warm filling into the squash halves and let them bake for a few more minutes until fork-tender, then serve.
The savory filling can also be enjoyed on its own. Or try it in a Quinoa Power Bowl or in stuffed peppers.
Storing and freezing
Leftover vegan stuffed acorn squash can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave, or enjoy at room temperature.
Leftover filling can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
For tips on freezing, refer to USDA Freezing and Food Safety.
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).
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.
Yes. If you cut open the squash and it's gray or slimy, toss it out.
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.
Cooked acorn squash can be stored in a covered container and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 12 months.
More winter squash recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
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.
- The quinoa can be cooked in advance. ½ cup quinoa will yield about 1½ cup cooked.
- To prepare the filling in advance, refrigerate the cooked and cooled mixture for up to 3 days.
- Leftover stuffed squash can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave, or enjoy at room temperature.
- Leftover filling can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
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