culinary review

Stuffed Spicy Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Dried Fruit and Walnuts

Last Modified: 10/29/07
First Published: 10/02/07
Views: 4694
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Views: 4694

I love that fall is here and that so many interesting squash types are available. Among all the different options, I have a fondness for acorn corn squash, it’s so sweet and has a very good flavor. One of my favorite dishes to make with this squash is to fill it with some kind of grain and vegetables mix, seasoned with cinnamon, cumin and chili powder. Previously, I have used brown rice, but this time I though that quinoa would be interesting to try. Along with the quinoa I used onion and broccoli, and some dried fruit as well as some chopped walnuts for crunch.

First cook the squash, then cook the filling on the side and then assemble it all and finish it off in the oven. It’s important that your filling isn’t too dry – then it will turn very dry and crispy once it’s in the oven. So to make sure that my filling stayed nice and moist, I added some apple juice. This was a very good idea and provided some sweetness to back up the oriental spices. I loved the quinoa in this dish – it has such a nice nutty flavor and complimented the squash really good. This is a vegetarian meal – it’s even completely vegan. If you wish to supplement this dish with some protein, then some tofu in the filling would be a good idea or maybe a piece of pork on the side.

This is a perfect dish to serve on a fall night. Or, why not add it to your Thanksgiving table this year to give your vegetarian guests a real treat. The filling can be varied endlessly – I think a chopped apple would be a nice addition, or peas and carrots. Of course, the quinoa could be replaced by rice, couscous or any other “nutty” grain.

2 servings


  • 1 acorn squash
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/3 head of a small broccoli, chopped in very small pieces
  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of quinoa
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts, chopped
  • 4 dried apricots, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of apple juice


  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt


Cut the squash in half, brush with some oil and put in the oven for about an hour at 350 degree F or until the squash is soft.

Place the quinoa and the water in a pot, add some salt and bring up to a boil. Lower the temperature and let simmer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take away from the heat and let sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile the quinoa is cooking, start with heating a pan on high heat. Add the chopped walnuts to the pan and roast for a few minutes. Once the nuts are roasted, remove from pan and lower the heat.

Now, start sautéing the onion in some oil. After a few minutes add the chopped garlic and the broccoli and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Next, add the spices, the dried fruit and the roasted walnuts.

Once the quinoa is done cooking, add it to the vegetables in the pan and mix it all. Add the apple juice and continue to cook for a minute or two. Taste off and possible add some more salt or spices.

When the acorn squash is soft, take it out of the oven and fill the center with the quinoa-vegetable mix. Divide it evenly between the two halves and then put the squash with the filling back in the oven for about 10 minutes. Enjoy.

Tip: I served this with a dollop of sour cream - I think the creamy dairy went perfect with this dish.