I know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover (my great-grandmother’s recipe for potato stuffing is divine, but it will never win an award for prettiest Thanksgiving dish). And though I love to eat this Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash, a huge part of the recipe’s appeal lies in its beauty.
It’s like a cornucopia of fall flavors and colors: Roasted orange acorn squash with a slight nut brown caramelization around the edges, textured quinoa punctuated by creamy dashes of goat cheese and red bursts of pomegranate seeds. Vegetarian friends, I’m pretty sure family won’t give you a hard time about your decision not to eat meat if you bring this dish to a holiday dinner. They may even want to try some themselves.
And if you want to get even more ambitious than this for your Thanksgiving or Christmas vegetarian main dish, check out this recipe for Vegetables Wellington from Serious Eats. I was skeptical when I read the tagline “The Plant-Based Vegan Roast Even Meat Eaters Will Want.” And then I scrolled through the recipe and discovered it contained layers of sauteed cremini mushrooms and leeks (cooked in a little bourbon!), smoked portabello mushroom bacon, and braised cashews, among other umami-loaded things. I’ve already got plans to spend the holidays with relatives and I can’t really commandeer this kitchen for the whole day required to boil, braise, and bake this complex treat. But I will try to make this happen some day.
If you want something a little simpler than Vegetables Wellington, this Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash is wonderful choice. I’ve made this dish as a weeknight dinner because it comes together in a breeze. All you have to do is roast the squash, cook a little quinoa as the squash roasts, assemble the quinoa stuffing and voila! A healthy, picture-perfect dinner is served. This would be a lovely vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, as well as a great side for non-vegetarians. To make it vegan, simply leave out the goat cheese.
Have a delicious and sweet Thanksgiving, friends. There is so much to be grateful for.
- • 2 medium acorn squash
- • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- • 1 cup quinoa
- • 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk (light or full-fat)
- • ¼ teaspoon cumin
- • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- • ½ cup pomegranate seeds (plus extra for garnish if desired)
- • ½ cup goat cheese (plus extra for garnish if desired)
- • ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 425º. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub 1 tablespoon of coconut oil on the cut sides of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Pierce the skin several times with a fork. Roast squash for 20 minutes. Flip them over and continue cooking for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven.
- While the squash is cooking, rinse the quinoa in a fine strainer. Bring to coconut milk to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of coconut oil, cumin, lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, and walnuts to the quinoa and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Evenly divide the quinoa stuffing between the squash halves. Garnish with extra pomegranate seeds and goat cheese, if desired.
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen