Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Herbs

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Herbs

Squashes are all over at the farmer’s markets this time of year in Indianapolis. I must admit that the idea of winter squash never much intrigued me. It seemed hard and time consuming to prepare…and brought back faint childhood memories of being forced against my will to sample some each fall (just try it!).

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

On a whim, I bought a few acorn squashes just to see what might happen – and I’m so glad I did, because they blew my misconceptions out of the water!  Not only did the squash have a delicious, sweet and nutty taste, but it only took about 30 minutes to roast!  And with no real chopping or peeling involved? That’s my kind of recipe.

I love accenting sweet with savory flavors, so while there are many recipes for acorn squash that call for roasting with sugar or stuffing with dried fruit, I knew I’d prefer a straight savory combination with the squash. Quinoa with some sauteed leeks (one of my favorite fall foods) fit the bill perfectly. However, this recipe can have endless variations – just adjust to use your favorite grains and stuffing items (cheese, nuts, dried fruit, etc)!

This a great option for a Thanksgiving or other special meal as a vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a hearty side dish! It also happens to be gluten-free.


Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Herbs

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)



  • 2 large acorn squash (2 1/2 pounds each) or 4 small acorn squash
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 1 pound leeks
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over the cut side and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet, and roast for about 20 to 35 minutes, until slightly browned and easily pierced with a fork. (The time will be less for smaller squashes.)
  3. Cook the quinoa following the instructions found at Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa, using 1 1/2 cups quinoa and 2 1/4 cups water. Or, use our Instant Pot quinoa method. While the quinoa cooks, complete Step 2 and 3.
  4. Chop the leeks (watch the video!): Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then chop it into thin half-moon shapes. Rinse thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves. If not already chopped, roughly chop the walnuts.
  5. In a skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown.
  6. In a small skillet, toast the walnuts over low heat, until slightly browned, watching so they don’t burn.
  7. When the quinoa is done, stir in the sauteed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Taste, and add more salt or pepper to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  8. When the squash are done, spoon quinoa generously into each half. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.


Inspired by Whole Living, November 2011

  • Category: Vegetarian Entree
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 7:01 am

    We are all in the mood for stuffed squashes! :) Love this version with quinoa, so colorful and surely tasty!

    • Reply
      November 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you! What kind of squashes do you have in Italy – do you have acorn squashes?

  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I adore squash and how been testing out all the different kinds I can find at Meijer. Not sure what is my favorite yet…but acorn is right up there! Looks amazing as always!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks, Sonia! I think we’re going to have this tonight! I see some grated parm on top of the quinoa in my future….Lisa in Indy

    • Reply
      November 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Ooo, great! I hope it turned out – parmesan sounds like a perfect addition!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    This looks lovely. I have several acorn squash and I have been looking for a simple way to prepare them. Thanks!

    • Reply
      November 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Wonderful – this would be a great option! We tried to make the recipe as simple as possible when we created it (though when I wrote it out it seemed like more steps than we actually did)! Let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese?
    November 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Yum! Looks great!!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    This looks yummy! I made stuffed Acorn squash last night and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing the recipe – I’ll have to try this with the remaining squash I have.

    • Reply
      November 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      I agree – I wasn’t expecting to like the squash as much as I did either! Let us know if you give this a try!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Oh what a delicious looking dish! Love the look and I bet it’s healthy and filling as well! :)

  • Reply
    November 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I just found your blog and love it! I will definitely be making this tonight.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I did something very similar for dinner the other night! But instead of walnuts, I toasted the squash seeds in balsamic (the chicken was also marinated in a balsamic dressing) and topped the quinoa (which wasn’t stuffed in the squash) with the toasted seeds, it was delicious and a good tie-in for the meal.

    • Reply
      November 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      Toasted squash seeds sounds delicious! How did you toast them? Great idea :)

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 10:21 am

    This is a really nice recipe. On the strength of it, I took some time to browse through your earlier entries. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you both have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    November 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you! Let us know if you check anything out – hope you had a great weekend too! :)

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I have a daughter who went away to college and came back a vegetarian. I want to make something for her at Thanksgiving…is this recipe something I can make the day before and reheat?

    • Reply
      November 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Crazy college is always messing with the brains of today’s youth! :)

      Technically, you could make it the day before – but we have to admit that the leftovers weren’t nearly as delicious as the meal was fresh.

      If it helps, you could roast the squash at a wide oven temperature – if it needs to share space. Just roast it until the the squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork.

      Be careful – it’s pretty delish – you may end up passing on the turkey so that you can have some squash. :)

  • Reply
    November 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Bookmarked! This looks fabulous.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    This is exactly what I was looking to make with the squash and quinoa I got at the farmers market this weekend! Looks amazing, can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    Jill @ A Cook's Nook
    November 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I am very excited to try this recipe this week! I wish I had it now (my salad isn’t nearly as enticing). Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Just made your stuffed acorn squash recipe. Delicious. I love the sweet and savory combination. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    delicious! I added shrimp!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Oh my goodness… This makes my mouth water. Literally! Looks SOOOO good!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen acorn squash here in Sweden, but maybe I can substitute it for butternut squash and still stay on the same proverbial ball field…?
    I’m hoping so, and I’m gonna try it. I’m gonna have to. Soon!! :D

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Yes, I think that would work! Someone commented on our Facebook page that they made it with butternut squash and it worked out well. You may need to bake it longer than the acorn, depending on its size – let us know how it works out!

    I’m sad that you don’t get to experience the joys of acorn squash in Sweden — it is my new favorite squash! But there are many other great things about living in Sweden (I visited several years ago and loved it!) :)

  • Reply
    October 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    This looks delicious. I’m going to make it this week. I’ve never made acorn squash before and was just wondering if you’re supposed to eat the skin?

    • Reply
      October 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      It’s your call! Sonja tends to eat it, but I often do not… just a matter of preference.

      • Reply
        October 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

        Thanks! I made this today and it was absolutely delicious. My husband and I both loved it!! And we did eat the skin.

        • Reply
          October 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm

          Glad you loved it! And enjoyed the skin :)

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