Acorn squash is perfect for filling with all sorts of delicious things! Quinoa, Feta and Pistachio-Stuffed Acorn Squash is a showstopping autumn side dish or vegetarian entree.
Acorn squash is one of the many varieties of squash now abundant at area markets. Because of their size and shape and when cut in half from the top down they look like little “edible bowls,” just waiting to be filled with something wonderful–like this quinoa, feta and pistachio combination.
Inspired by a recipe in Meatless, a Martha Stewart cookbook, I added some things that just seemed natural such as lemon, garlic and a hint of onion flavor in the form of chives.
Besides being an elegant meatless meal for two, this stuffed acorn squash is also a healthful one. Acorn squash is high in vitamin C, which may help fend off the cold virus. Quinoa and nuts are considered “super foods.”
When selecting squash, it should feel heavy for the size, which means it has plenty of moisture. I like to buy acorn squash with a “flash” of orange on it; it always seems to be the perfect ripeness.
Although I frequently cook quinoa for clients, I’ve found it challenging to get it “just right” following package instructions. Most have you rinse it (to remove the bitter coating known as saponin), add to boiling water, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. My result was generally undercooked quinoa with water remaining in the pot.
The method I’ve found works best is to leave the cover off while it’s simmering so I can watch it. After about 12-15 minutes when much of the water has been absorbed or cooked out and the “germ” begins to appear, I then cover and let it stand off the heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when the germ has been fully released and it’s fluffy and tender.
If you’d rather not go to the trouble, fully cooked quinoa is now available in the freezer section near the vegetables at many grocery stores. If you prefer, couscous or orzo may be substituted for the quinoa. Serve with sauteed greens or a green salad.
15 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup roasted and salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper. Brush cut side of squash with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring water, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 12-15 minutes or until the water is almost absorbed and the germ is just beginning to appear. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 10-15 minutes or until cooked and fluffy. Fluff quinoa with a fork and transfer to a bowl.
Add parsley, chives, feta cheese, pistachios and salt and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Divide filling among squash and serve immediately.