Since our neighbor Vimmi took care of our cat while we were in Atlanta, I promised her a home-cooked meal.
Vimmi is vegetarian and allergic to gluten, but luckily I had lots of meat-free recipes already saved on my Pinterest that I wanted to try out. I found one for Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Herbs that sounded like the perfect fall meal.
The recipe actually made much more quinoa stuffing than would fit in our squash, but it would be good to eat on its own as well. It was a very filling meal – we had plenty of leftovers. I’ve made acorn squash before, but this was probably the best I’ve made. And since the stuffing was just veggies, herbs, quinoa, and walnuts, it was much healthier than cooking the squash with brown sugar and butter like I normally make it.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Herbs (adapted from A Couple Cooks)
- 2 large acorn squash (about 2½ pounds each) or 4 small squash
- 1½ cups quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s Tricolored)
- 1 pound leeks
- ¼ cup fresh sage
- ¼ cup fresh thyme
- 3½ tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- ½ cup walnuts
- Fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Cut each squash in half, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over the cut side (or ¼ tablespoon over each if you use 4 smaller squash) and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
3. Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet, and roast for 20 to 35 minutes, until slightly browned and easily pierced with a fork. (Mine took about 30 minutes, but it would be less if you use smaller squash. Test it with a fork to make sure it’s tender.)
4. Cook the quinoa following the package instructions. While the quinoa cooks, complete the next steps.
5. Chop off the dark green stems and the bases of the leeks, then slice the middle parts in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then chop it into thin slices.
6. Leeks usually still have dirt between each layer, so when you’ve finished chopping them, rinse them thoroughly in a colander.
7. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves. Chop the walnuts.
8. In a skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks, and sauté about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown. While you sauté the leeks, toast the walnuts in the oven (keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn).
9. When the quinoa is done, stir in the sautéed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Add more seasoning if desired.
10. When the squash are done, spoon quinoa generously into each half. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.
We finished the meal with strawberries and cheesecake!