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.
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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:
One Pot Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad
Butternut Squash Quinoa Patties with Cranberry Orange Sauce
Roasted Veggie, Chickpea & Pesto Quinoa Salad
Brown Butter Cranberry Pumpkin Cornbread Skillet
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.
Yum!!! My husband wanted to make something like this so I will send him the recipe 😉
Amazing! I hope you guys enjoy!
I’m going to make this ASAP. woah.
Recipes look very interesting, can’t wait to try!
I hope you do!
I made these last night. MAJOR YUM!!!
Amazing!! The perfect fall dinner 🙂
So delishhhh!! Made these tonight and absolutely loved them! The goat cheese cream… I think I’m obsessed
Isn’t that crema amazing?? We ate it for a week over here 🙂 So glad you enjoyed!
I made these last week as a test run for Thanksgiving. SO delicious, thank you for the recipe!
Amazing!! So glad you enjoyed it and happy early Thanksgiving!
I would have liked to have a “PRINTER READY’, small picture, recipe to take to the kitchen!!!! I’m not computer savvy to go to other sites! Thank you, Lana
Hi Lana! We’re working on a fix for the printer button, but for now if you click the white space underneath the “cook time, total time” box under the nutrition information, a page will pop up that you can print!
I’ve recently come across your page and love so many recipes and ideas & not only for home; i aim to adapt a few noteworthy ones for larger scale production at the co-op kitchen I work in. This squash is a must try very soon!
Welcome to AK! So happy to hear that – hope everyone loves them.
this squash stuffed with cranberries and pecans is amazing
Ohhhh myyyy goodness… This quinoa recipe is outstanding!!! The only thing I did differently was that I added powdered ginger – equal amounts to the turmeric – and I used freshly squeezed orange juice. Wow, it was such a hit at a party that everyone asked for the recipe! Delicious the day of, but even better a few days later. Flavor combination is superb!!!!! Served with salmon and warm spinach mixed into the quinoa. Yummmmmmmerzzzzzz!!!!!! Thank you, Monique!!!! Your recipes are phenomenal! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻😋😋😋🤗🤗🤗
Perfect!! So glad you loved it!
Hi Monique! Made this amaaazing recipe for a Friendsgiving yesterday. I worked on it in stages throughout the day in between work calls so it was so easy peasy. And super impressive presentation! The girls were dying 🙂 Thanks so much for a killer recipe! Also totally a minor thing but I noticed that the instructions don’t mention to add the salt in step 4 hehe. Thanks so much!
Amazing!! So happy to hear that. And thanks for the catch – updated 🙂
I am so enjoying your posts and will be making many of the foods in the future! Thank you!
Incidentally I am on a sodium-restricted diet and was wondering if you’d consider including sodium mgs listed with your other nutritional values for your recipes. It would be very helpful. Thanks again for a great site!
So happy to hear that! I don’t typically include sodium as it greatly depends on the brands of ingredients used. I’d suggest checking out the back of the ingredients when you make the recipes 🙂
I loved this! Really easy to make! Sure my family was a little weirded out about what I was making hahaha but everyone ate the whole thing lol… looking forward to buying more acorn squash this fall / winter!
Amazing! The combo does seem a bit strange but it’s so delicious 🙂 glad everyone enjoyed!
I saw acorn squash at TJs and immediately started craving this recipe. The goat cheese drizzle makes it.
The best! Perfect for fall.
Each of the components of this recipe really made for a fantastic product. I was a bit skeptical at first because of the sweet quinoa, but I chose to make this recipe for my parents and because they’re pretty open to new recipes that I want to try and they love quinoa, I hoped that that would help ease them in to such a different recipe. Once they tried it I had never heard them say “the food is so good” so many times as I did today. They scraped their acorn squash to the rind! If you think your family will love this recipe as much as we do then consider doubling the recipe! The 1/2 cup of quinoa in the recipe was just right for the 2 medium sized acorn squash (4 halves), and I think I just needed a bit more warm water to make the crema because it was a bit chunky-but I liked it chunky (it was delicious and the honey have it a great flavor with the tart from the cheese and vinegar) Truly amazed with this recipe, it was one of the most creative and different recipes I’ve ever tried. I am used to very simple dinners at home. We served this with sauteed mushrooms, chicken, and baked zucchini. It was great, thanks so much for sharing this recipe! Definitely will make it again, maybe as a side for Thanksgiving. Final comment, it was actually really sweet and my parents thought it would be good as a dessert, so maybe there is a way to make it a bit more savory? But it was just new to us to have a sweet dinner and we would eat this again exactly as we made it following the recipe.
I don’t think I can edit my review, but I wanted to say that I used feta because one of my family members doesn’t like goat cheese, but me and the rest of the family do so next time I will try with goat cheese because I definitely think that will add something great to the overall flavor!
Omg I’m SO thrilled to hear that you all loved it, Alexis! Feel free to leave off the brown sugar from the acorn squash and reduce the amount of OJ if you’d like 🙂
Yum! Just made this omitting the drizzle because I am dairy free. Is there an equally yummy non-dairy alternative to the goat cheese drizzle?
Hi! So happy you loved it 🙂 You could try a nondairy yogurt in the crema!
These were a huge hit! The only modification I made was using olive oil instead of coconut oil. The perfect autumn side!
This was delicious!!!! So easy to make.
So glad you loved it, Rachel! ❤️
I love all your recipes and your website is my go-to whenever I have a certain ingredient and want to type it in to see what to make with it. So that’s what makes me so sad to write this review… I was so excited about it! I pretty much followed the recipe to a t, but none of us liked the result: me, my husband, nor my preschooler who happily eats most things we give her. I think it was mainly the orange juice… That was quite an off-putting taste and didn’t seem to match with the rest of the dish. I’m curious if we would have liked it without that, but not brave enough to try it again. 🙁 I hate writing a bad review, but I felt like the average star rating needed to be lowered a little because that definitely threw me off…
I do have to say, though, that the acorn squash and the cooking you prescribed for it was so yummy! I guess my poor rating is basically for the quinoa…
Hi, Melinda! Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t love it. Did you use freshly squeezed OJ or from a bottle? Fresh is definitely key here. I think it would be totally fine to leave it out next time if you’d like, or just use a little orange or lemon zest!
The perfect dish for my Thanksgiving dinner! I know I’ll be making it over and over again, as it was so easy and delicious!
This is one of my most favorite recipes, any time of the year. Tonight is a cold, snowy evening and this recipe pops into my head. I’ve also made it for my friends who just had a baby. It’s fairly easy and so delicious. You just have to plan ahead for the baking time. Enjoy!
Please remove the word healthy from this recipe which is loaded with saturated fat and added sugar. It would not be great healthy per the American Heart Association. To make healthier, it would not an oil not loaded in saturated fat such as olive or avocado. I still may try this recipe, but would modify the oil type and lower the sugar.
This is excellent! The quinoa stuffing is delicious. I added thyme to the stuffing and used a bit more turmeric and honey. Instead of folding the pecans into the stuffing I sprinkled them on top for the last 10 minutes. I also omitted the crema and sprinkled crumbled feta on top with the pecans, then finished with a drizzle of truffle honey before serving.
Yummm that sounds amazing! So happy you’re a fan!
Do you have a suggestion for a non dairy crema or drizzle?
I have not tested this recipe with any dairy free cheeses. But I have seen non dairy feta that you could try and see how that works. If you give this a try, Let me know how it works out.
Has anyone tried adding chickpeas for a little more protein and to make it more of a main dish?
I have not tried adding chickpeas to this recipe for additional protein, but I am sure they would make a great addition. Enjoy!
I made this tonight, and it was so delicious! I love the citrus flavour with the quinoa, and the crema made it even that much more spectacular!
Ahh this is amazing! SO glad you are loving this recipe ❤️