If you can’t get enough of seasonal fall dishes, stuffed acorn squash is the answer!
It’s sometimes overlooked in lieu of pumpkin based recipes, but I’m here to tell you to cash in on this autumn gem. Flavorful stuffed acorn squash with spicy Spanish style quinoa is zesty and comforting, as well as a completely vegan main dish!
It can even be made fully compatible with the paleo diet (grain free) with a few easy tweaks such as switching out the quinoa stuffing for a “risotto” filling made from cauliflower. Pairing this with sauteed greens on the side or with a fresh salad makes it an extra hearty but nutritious main dish.
Spanish style quinoa mixed with black beans is a great way to stuff acorn squash for a few reasons. First, the mouthwatering array of spices used–chili, cumin, paprika, white pepper, and garlic–are all great ways to incorporate different antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties into your diet.
Second, the quinoa and beans provide a great amount of protein which makes this a suitable stand alone dish that works for a vegan diet while avoiding common food allergens. This recipe features acorn squash that is not peeled, since the peel will act as the “bowl” out of which you eat! Stuffed acorn squash makes for a naturally beautiful and effortless presentation.
Why Acorn Squash?
High in Vitamin C & A and fiber, acorn squash is naturally gluten-free and easy to prepare. Roasting it in the oven, making soups, and blending it into fall flavored smoothies are just some of the versatile ways to use acorn squash. It’s high in anti-oxidants as well as considered low on the glycemic index scale—even though it is a starch.
Since a lot of gluten-free pre-packaged and processed foods can sometimes lack good amounts of fiber, try adding this recipe for a boost. Acorn squash on its own has a fair amount of fiber while quinoa and black beans both have substantial amounts. So it’s a delicious natural way to get your fill on a gluten-free diet.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Tips and Tricks
- When cutting the acorn squash in half, cut off the bottom and the top (to create flat surfaces making it easier and safer to cut). Then with the squash seated with a flat cut side down, cut down through the middle. Voilá, done! To see how this is done, check out this video!
- In order to avoid wasting any part of the squash, scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting just as you would with pumpkin seeds! Rinse the seeds, let them dry on a paper towel, place on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then toast them in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 15 minutes until golden and crisp. You may want to move them around about half way through. Then crunch away!
- When roasting the squash for this recipe, place the two halves of the squash cut side down in the roasting pan. Placing them cut side down ensures that they won’t roll around as you place them into the oven and take them out.
- Just to rehash what we said earlier, to make this recipe paleo diet friendly, try replacing the Spanish style quinoa and black beans with a cauliflower based “risotto” that is grain free and legume free. Also leave out the optional crumbled goat cheese topping.
- Quinoa can also be cooked in a rice cooker instead of on the stove!