Thanksgiving is getting close and I’m more than ready to bust out all the fabulous recipes I’ve been testing in my kitchen over the last few weeks. Safe to say Abra and I have been eating very, very well.
To me, Thanksgiving can involve your Grandmother’s classic recipes but it can also be about experimenting with new recipes and creating your own traditions. Since coming into Tony’s family, I’ve introduced my both my homemade naturally sweetened cranberry sauce and healthy sweet potato casserole to the table and now each year we’re sure not to miss it.
I’m even more excited about the recipes I’m going to post over the next few weeks because they’re creative, beautiful and healthy. YASSS. Of course, I highly recommend checking out our Thanksgiving category where you can find all of our Thanksgiving recipes.
This recipe in particular is inspired by my love affair for acorn squash. I’ve been obsessed with it since my mom and I started cooking it during college. One of my favorite ways to eat it is stuffed with greek yogurt for breakfast.
If you’ve never had acorn squash before, then get excited because it can be both savory and sweet and a wonderful introductory squash. It’s tender and full of smoooooooth flava. Basically the Beyonce of all squash…in my opinion anyway.
Today’s recipe was one that I made up on a whim and it turned out to be one of the most creative meals I’ve made in some time. I’m super excited for you to try this gorgeous vegetarian quinoa stuffed acorn squash.
How to cut acorn squash
To cut your acorn squash, you’ll need a sharp chef’s knife and a sturdy cutting board. To cut your acorn squash in half, you’ll need to cut off the end of the acorn squash with the stem on it. You really don’t need to cut much off, but probably 1/4 inch.
Once that’s done, you can stand your acorn squash vertically on the end that you just cut off. This provides a stable base for you to make a cut without cutting your fingers or hand. Next use your knife to make a vertical cut down the middle of the acorn squash. Finally coop out the seeds. Now you’ve successfully cut your acorn squash in half!
How do you make stuffed acorn squash?
- First, cut your acorn squash in half. I prefer to do cut it vertically from stem to end. To do this, you’ll first cut off the ends of the acorn squash, then cut it vertically through the middle. I recommend watching the video below to see more!
- Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. You can discard these or save them for roasting.
- Next, add little coconut oil, brown sugar (or coconut sugar) and cinnamon to the flesh of the acorn squash and bake until tender.
- While the acorn squash roasts to sweet perfection, you’ll cook your quinoa and infuse it with a little thyme, turmeric and orange juice. Next, add in cranberries and pecans then stuff it back into the squash and bake again for a few minutes. The nice part is that this could technically be made ahead of time and then reheated. You can also check out my tutorial on how to cook quinoa here.
- To finish it off, you’ll make a goat cheese or feta crema and drizzle it all over the top of the roasted squash (now my favorite dressing for everything). It’s sweet, tangy and SO SO goooood.
I hope you’ll be joining me for a very #AKThanksgiving this year. I’m so thankful for all of you who visit my site and make my recipes, you are what make this job possible. So from the bottom of my heart — thank you, thank you!
More healthy vegetarian recipes to try:
If you make this recipe, please rate it below and leave a comment. You can also snap a photo and tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram! xo.
Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Stuffed acorn squash with cranberry, pecans and quinoa then drizzled with a simple goat cheese or feta crema. Perfect for vegetarians at Thanksgiving, or anytime you're looking for a healthy plant based meal or side.
- For the acorn squash:
- 2 medium acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
- 4 teaspoons virgin melted coconut oil (or sub melted butter)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
- For the quinoa:
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
- For the crema:
- 2 ounces goat cheese or feta crumbles
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and 1/2 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar to each squash half; use your hands to rub into the flesh of the squash, even on the top (but not on the skin). Sprinkle each squash half with a little bit of cinnamon. Place flesh side down on baking sheet and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until squash is just fork tender.
While the squash roasts, you can make the quinoa. Add quinoa, water and thyme sprigs to a large pot and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for exactly 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork. Remove thyme sprigs from quinoa and discard.
Next stir in coconut oil, orange juice, honey, turmeric and salt and stir to combine. Fold in dried cranberries and chopped pecans.
- Once acorn squash is done roasting, evenly stuff each squash with quinoa. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
While the squash is baking again, make the goat cheese or feta drizzle: Add feta or goat cheese crumbles, honey, apple cider vinegar and water to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Drizzle evenly over each squash half. Serves 4, 1 squash half each.
If you want to save time, you can make the squash and quinoa a day ahead of time. Once ready to serve, simply reheat in oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until warm and then make the crema and drizzle on top.