For the Love of Gourd

15 Nov

Vegetables are Taking Thanksgiving by Storm

Nothing quite matches the thrill I get when market stands are stacked with winter squashes in all colors of the season and in various shapes and sizes: some smooth, some heavily rigid, some the size of softballs, others the size of, well, jack-o-lanterns, because that’s what they’ll become.

With the holiday season just ahead and Halloween right behind us, many people are dreading the onslaught of so-called “treats” that will emerge on countertops and workspaces around them.  I am absolutely obsessed with this recipe for quinoa-stuffed acorn squash…it’s perfect for eating a bit lighter without sacrificing flavor and will  leave you feeling satisfied.

I could be happy eating it every night. Make this. And make any alterations or additions you want.

I decided to do rings instead. Why rings? Well, first of all,  I was trying out recipes for a dish I wanted to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.  There is always so much food available on Thanksgiving.  And a “whole” squash half is a lot of food on top of all the sides and other yummy things you definitely don’t want to miss out on.  Rings are a little more manageable, don’t you think? Easier to eat and they don’t take up nearly as much room on your plate…and the little rings looked fun!

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings:


olive oil mister or cooking spray

1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 c. vegetable broth

1 tbsp. olive oil (I used sesame oil)

1 medium onion, diced

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 c. shredded sharp, aged or smoked cheddar cheese

1/4 c. dried cranberries

2 tbsp. chopped sage

2 tbsp. chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

salt + pepper to taste

1 egg, whisked

3 small acorn or sweet dumpling squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices (remove seeds & guts)

1 tbsp. butter, melted

1 tbsp. maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray or oil and place squash rings on sheets.

2. Cook quinoa in broth according to package directions. Cool slightly.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook about 10 minutes, or until onion is just beginning to brown. Add apple and cook about 5 minutes more, until apple is softened. Allow to cool slightly.

4. Combine quinoa, apple and onion mixture, cheese, cranberries, sage, and walnuts in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in egg.

5. In a small bowl, combine butter and maple syrup. Brush tops and insides of squash rings with butter mixture; season with salt and pepper.

6. Stuff quinoa filling into the center of each squash ring, pressing down to fit as much stuffing as possible without overflowing. Spray centers of squash rings with oil or cooking spray. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and squash is tender.

This ingenious method takes advantage of the quicker cooking that happens when the vegetable is sliced.

MAKE AHEAD: The “stuffing” can be cooked and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.  The squash rings can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; reheat gently before assembling the dish.

*BONUS: No peeling needed for acorn squash…you can eat the peel!

Since I’m the only one in the house that is eating these beauties, I have been reheating all week and they taste better the next day!


In her 2004 book, “The Compleat Squash,” Amy Goldman coined a new term, cucurbitacean.  The definition?  “A person who regards pumpkins or squashes with deep, often rapturous love.”

Seasons change. Embracing them and allowing ourselves to grow can result in beautiful things.

From my kitchen, to yours… Enjoy!
pink lips WITH SIGNITURE words above it

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