Stuffed squash will be the star of your holiday meal this year! It's the perfect main dish for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and it's also great for a fancy Sunday supper! It makes for a pretty presentation on your dinner table, and guests will love the fact that they each get their own half. Made with quinoa, spinach, celery, dried cranberries, and pecans, this easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free. You can use any type of squash, but acorn and carnival work the best.
After getting asked where I get my protein, people often ask me what vegans eat for Thanksgiving. It's a holiday that centers around eating, and what's eaten is, sadly, usually a dead bird. There's A LOT to eat from the vegetable world though. I usually eat creamed kale, stuffing, gravy, squash, green bean casserole, stuffed mushrooms, cranberry sauce, nondairy pumpkin cheesecake, and apple crisp. Honestly, there's no room on my plate for meat.
Several years ago I made Stuffed Acorn Squash, and the recipe won best main dish in the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I taught a two-part vegan Thanksgiving cooking class with my friend Jenna a year later, and I wanted to share the recipe, but there were several people in attendance who ate gluten-free. After the first night of the class I came home and devised a similar recipe that uses quinoa and chickpeas rather than breadcrumbs and vegan sausage. Everyone in the class loved it, and one person said it was too good to serve to her omnivore family!
Choosing Your Squash
The best squash for this recipe is the type that looks like a bowl when sliced in half. I like acorn squash or carnival squash. Buttercup or kombocha would work too. If you'd like your stuffed squash to be a side, rather than your main dish, you can use something smaller, such as a delicata squash.
How to Cut Your Squash
Cutting squash can be tricky, but it can be done!
- If your squash is a little tough and difficult to cut through, you can place it in your preheated over for about 10 minutes to soften it a little. You can also microwave it for two or three minutes.
- Cut your squash in half. You can either cut it through the stem vertically or through it's center horizontally, depending on how you want it to look.
- Then scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in inside. I have a grapefruit spoon that I use to make it easy, but you can use any spoon to get it out.
How to Make Stuffed Squash
This recipe is easy to make!
- Once your squash is cut, you brush the insides with a little oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- You place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them for 30 minutes, until golden and tender.
- While the squash is roasting, you can make the stuffing. Cook the quinoa, by adding the stock or water and quinoa to a medium pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let the quinoa simmer for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
- While the quinoa cooks, you cook the onion in a large pan for about 5 minutes in the remaining oil. Next you add the garlic, celery, and spices and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- Now you add the chickpeas, spinach and remaining salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. The spinach should wilt from the heat the pan.
- In a large bowl, you mix together the quinoa, vegetables, pecans, and cranberries.
- Finally, you stuff the squash with the mixture and bake them for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are heated throughout.
How to Customize Your Stuffed Squash
You can easily make this recipe your own!
- Instead of spinach, you can use baby kale or arugula.
- If you don't like pecans, you can use walnuts. Or to keep it nut free, you can use pumpkin seeds.
- Instead of chickpeas, you an use white beans.
- If you don't like cooked celery, you can leave it out! Try carrots instead.
- You can use cooked brown rice in the place of the quinoa, if you like.
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
- 3 medium acorn or carnival squash halved and seeded
- 4 teaspoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 1 cup vegetable stock or water
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup celery diced
- ½ teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 6 ounces baby spinach chopped (or baby kale or arugula)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup pecans chopped
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Brush the squash halves with about half of the vegetable oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the squash on it, cut-side down. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and tender.
- While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa. Add the stock or water and quinoa a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
- In a large pan over medium high heat, cook the onion for about 5 minutes in the remaining oil, until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic, celery, and spices and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the chickpeas, spinach and remaining salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, vegetables, pecans, and cranberries.
- Stuff the squash with the mixture and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated throughout.
More Squash Recipes You Might Enjoy Include:
- Maple Miso Glazed Squash
- Baked Butternut Squash Steaks
- Garlicky Mashed Butternut Squash
- Roasted Kabocha Soup