Roasted acorn squash is one of my favorite vegetarian or vegan meals because the squash is such a great palette for stuffing with all sorts of grains and vegetables, and this recipe is one of my favorites. The squash roasts while you make the quinoa stuffing on the stove, then finishes all together with a quick final roast in the oven. The stuffing is full of flavor with orange juice, apple cider, spices, apples, cranberries, raisins, onions, celery, carrots, parsley, a touch of maple syrup, and a bit of crunch from the walnuts.
I love to eat stuffed squash for lunch or dinner, but it also makes a beautiful dish for Thanksgiving. If you have vegetarian or vegan family or friends coming for Thanksgiving dinner, this is a delicious alternative to turkey and gravy for them. The stuffing recipe makes much more than needed for four acorn squash halves, but the leftover stuffing is fabulous as a side dish by itself or even for a breakfast bowl.
I made a couple small changes to the original recipe: fresh apples instead of dried, added golden raisins, reduced the butter, and used walnuts instead of almonds. I also dry roast the squash instead of using a water bath, which I thought made it a little mushy. The cider flavor is prominent, but you can use half cider and half water if you prefer. Because of the cider and the spices, the color effect from using both red and white quinoa is lost somewhat, so you could use just one color of quinoa and it would be fine. The recipe calls for butter, but you can easily veganize it with sunflower oil or another oil of your choice.
ROASTED ACORN SQUASH WITH CRANBERRY, APPLE, AND QUINOA STUFFING
Adapted from Whole Foods Market.
3-quart heavy bottom pot with lid
baking sheet, lined with foil and lightly greased with olive oil
1/2 cup (92 g) white quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup (92 g) red quinoa, rinsed
1 cup (240 ml) orange juice
2 cups (480 ml) apple cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 acorn squash, cut in half vertically and seeded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (80 g) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (80 g) golden raisins
2 medium tart apples, diced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup (38 g) chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C.
2. Place each acorn squash half cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the squash are just tender, about 40 minutes.
3. While the squash bakes, toast the quinoa in the 3-quart pot, dry, for about 3 minutes. Add the orange juice, apple cider, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Melt the butter or oil in the skillet and sauté the onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sautéed vegetables to the simmering quinoa along with the dried cranberries, raisins, chopped apples, and maple syrup. Simmer the mixture for 10 more minutes, at which point the quinoa should be fully cooked and hold together like sticky rice. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted walnuts and parsley.
4. Turn the squash cut-side up and fill each half with some of the quinoa mixture, pressing to fill each and mound over the stuffing. Return the squash to the oven for 10 more minutes, then remove and serve while hot.