This Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe makes a beautiful and delicious side dish or vegetarian main. Made with a gluten-free quinoa stuffing, lentils add even more plant-based protein and cheese is optional but delicious. If you're looking for a Thanksgiving side dish or just a fun way to eat squash, this vegetarian stuffed squash is the one!
I live in a mostly wonderful country with socialist healthcare, free education, generous parental leave for both parents, gender neutral pronouns, incredibly good work-life balance, and more bun-related holidays than you can shake a stick at.
In the 10 years I've lived here, the food scene has really improved too. I used to pack a suitcase full of hard-to-find exotic ingredients like nutritional yeast and chia seeds, but now stuff like that lines the shelves of our neighbourhood grocery store.
Kale used to be non-existent and now I eat so much of the stuff on a regular basis that I might actually turn green. There's just one lingering problem, a fundamental shift in the food system that needs to take place and it is this: lack of squash.
If aliens invaded earth and scoped out Swedish grocery stores, they'd come to the conclusion that we humanoids eat one and only one varietal of squash, the mighty butternut.
Don't get me wrong, I love me a good butternut squash (case in point: Hasselback Butternut Squash, Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils, Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili) but c'mon people, let's diversity the portfolio! Spaghetti Squash is becoming increasingly common (related: Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Noodles) but the squash you see here? I bought it at the florist.
Not only did I buy it at the florist, but I paid TEN BUCKS for that single solitary squash. Oh the humanity!
So what to do with my overpriced ornamental squash? Why, share with you my favourite Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe!
What's in this stuffed squash?
You'll need just a short list of ingredients to make this delicious stuffed acorn squash recipe. Go and grab some:
- Acorn squash --> But you can totally use a carnival squash instead like I did.
- Quinoa --> This forms the base of your gluten-free stuffing.
- Lentils --> I totally forgot to include them in the ingredients shot, but they're there!
- Cheese --> Optional, but delicious. I used cheddar.
- Celery --> For some crunch!
- Onion --> As one does.
- Tomato paste --> For a little zing!
- Sunflower seeds --> That little something extra.
About the squash: I have only ever once seen an acorn squash in Sweden, and that was when an American friend brought some seeds back and grew her own. I'm fully going to bring a packet of acorn squash seeds to my farmer's market this year and start a squash revolution!
In the mean time, carnival squash, which are a hybrid of acorn squash and sweet dumpling squash, do the job just fine.
Can you eat carnival squash? Yes you can! And you should! They're delicious. They've got a nutty flavour and are a bit sweeter than a butternut squash, but not dry like a kabocha would be. If you're looking for another carnival squash recipe, check out this easy and delicious Roasted Carnival Squash Salad.
How do you make stuffed squash?
Alright, fire on your oven and let's get going!
Step 1: Split your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. The easiest way to cut an acorn squash in half is to slice right through the stem.
Rub the flesh with just a little bit of olive oil, and then place them cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the oven, and roast the squash for about 20 minutes, until barely tender.
Step 2: While the squash is roasting, we'll prepare the stuffing. If your quinoa and lentils are not already cooked, now's the time to do it! If you're not sure how to cook lentils, follow the instructions in this post.
Step 3: Heat a little bit of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat.
Step 4: Combine the lentils, quinoa, cooked onions and celery, sunflower seeds, cheese, and tomato paste in a large bowl. Mix well, give it a taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Step 5: Spoon the lentil stuffing mixture into your par-cooked carnival squash. This will be enough filling for one large or two smaller squash.
I like to use my hands and really pack it in there, then form a bit of a dome. If you like, you can sprinkle the top with a bit of extra cheese.
Step 6: Return the stuffed squash to the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the stuffing is crisp and brown on the top and the squash is fully cooked.
Transfer your stuffed acorn squash to a serving platter and you are done like dinner.
Can I make this dish in advance?
You sure can! I definitely recommend you cook the lentils and quinoa in advance (hey, you could even make big batches to freeze if you're doing some batch cooking). You can also par-roast the squash a day or two ahead of time and have it ready in the fridge.
Another option is to make your stuffed acorn squash right up until the point of the second roasting, and then keep the squash covered in the fridge for a day or two. You'll need to add a bit of extra roasting time if they're going straight from the fridge into the oven, but only 5-10 minutes at most.
Can I make vegan stuffed squash?
You bet! To make this dish vegan you can either simply omit the cheese, or sub in your favourite shredded plant-based cheese product.
How many people will this dish serve?
This stuffed acorn squash recipe will yield four wedges from one large squash, or four halves from two smaller squash. I find that a single wedge makes for a hearty vegetarian main dish, or you can cut them in half to make smaller portions to serve as a side dish.
If you want to double or triple the recipe, just toggle the number of servings in the recipe card below and it'll automatically adjust the quantities for you.
Got leftover stuffing?
First of all, REALLY pack your stuffing in there. It fits a lot more than you think! But if you end up with leftover lentil stuffing mixture, you can bake it alongside the squash in a buttered ramekin.
Alternately, you can save leftover stuffing mixture in the fridge for 3-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you've got the stuffing ready to go, the next time the craving strikes for stuffed squash you'll be enjoying it in a flash.
Hey Nutrition Lady, is squash good for you?
Yes, friends. Yes it is. Whether you chose an acorn squash or a funky-looking carnival squash, the yellow-fleshed winter squash is jam-packed full of good nutrition.
They're rich in carotenoids, a precursor to vitamin A, which is the compound responsible for the orange colour of the flesh. Winter squash are also a good source of dietary fiber, and important minerals like potassium, and manganese. B vitamins are where winter squash really shine, though. They are a very good source of vitamin B6, B2, B3, folate, and pantothenic acid.
Although winter squash are high in starch (carbohydrates) they have actually been shown to steady the release of sugar inside our digestive tracts, and help moderate the glycemic response overall.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 1 large acorn squash or two smaller squash
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup cooked lentils I use Puy or beluga lentils
- 1 small yellow onion finely diced
- 1 stalk celery finely diced
- ½ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds toasted
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Split your squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
- Rub the squash with a bit of oil, and place the squash cut side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15 - 20 min, until just barely tender.
- While squash is roasting, prepare the stuffing.
- Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil, and sauté the onions and celery for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat.
- Combine quinoa, lentils, onions and celery, cheese, tomato paste, and sunflower seeds to a large bowl, and give everything a good stir to combine.
- When the squash is just becoming tender remove from the oven and cool slightly, just until you can handle it.
- Spoon the filling in and press firmly in with your hands, making a mound of stuffing over the squash.
- Return the squash to the sheet pan (or use a baking dish if your squash is tippy), stuffing side up, and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.
- Squash is ready when it is fully tender and the stuffing is nice and crispy on top.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- The squash can be par-roasted a day or two in advance and stuffed before baking.
- Stuffed squash can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days and baked from cold - just add 10 minutes to the second roasting time.
- Leftover stuffing can be baked in a buttered ramekin, kept in the fridge for 3-5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
This recipe was originally published December 28, 2011. It was retested, re-photographed, and most recently updated on November 19, 2019.