Every fall I always end up with an assortment of random squash and gourds sitting on my counter top that I did not buy. Please tell me I’m not the only one who goes through this squash dilemma every fall. Half the time some one gives them to us because they are sick of them sitting on their countertop, and half the time my husband comes home from a random grocery store trip with a whole bunch of them. Sometimes, I am not sure if I should cook them or stick them on my front porch for decoration.
The beauty of these winter/fall squash is that they last forever before going bad. I usually glare at them for taking up counter space for a few weeks, and then one day I decide “today is the day” and I chop those suckers up and turn them into something edible.
My husband loves all squash. That’s why he is always going out and buying them in hopes that I will cook with them. I like spaghetti squash, but I’m not a huge fan of acorn or butternut squash. So, after three weeks of being haunted by two acorn squash from my neighbor, I finally decided the only way they could win me over was to stuff them chuck full of a really flavorful, delicious filling and bake them… It worked. They were delicious. Just make sure you get acorn squash that are on the small side and pack in as much filling as you can. You want squash and stuffing in every bite.
These squash have the flavors of Italy with basil, olives, marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese. They also have the protein from quinoa and beans. A complete, filling meatless meal! You can use a jar or marinara sauce, homemade marinara, or even just plain tomato sauce in this recipe. Just taste and add more salt accordingly if you use the tomato sauce. This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free, and you could easily make it vegan by leaving off the parmesan cheese topping. If you are vegan and still want a cheesy flavor, try adding some nutritional yeast on top or mixed in the stuffing! This filling would also be delicious stuffed inside all kinds of squashes, pumpkins, zucchini, and bell peppers.
So don’t let those countertop squash intimidate you any longer! Let today be the day you conquer them!
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 C. cooked quinoa (I cook 1 cup of dry and have a little extra for another meal)
- 1 TBSP. olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 C. mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can black olives, chopped
- 1 C. corn kernels
- 1/4 C. fresh basil
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 C. marinara sauce + another 1/4 C. for topping (I love Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara. You could also use plain tomato sauce, you just might need to add a bit more salt).
- parmesan cheese to taste (or leave it off to keep it vegan)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Wash the squash and cut off the stem. Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large dish with a thin layer of water at the bottom of the pan. You may have to use two pans to fit all four squash halves. Cook for 30 minutes.
2. While the squash is cooking, prep the filling. (If you haven’t already cooked the quinoa, now would be a good time to start it). Heat up the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes. The mushrooms don’t have to be all the way cooked, just softened up a bit.
3. Add the onion mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Add the beans, corn, olives, basil, salt, pepper, cooked quinoa, and 1/2 C. marinara/tomato sauce to the bowl and mix until combined. Taste and add more salt if needed. You want it to be slightly more salty than if you were eating it plain because it is going to be eaten along with the squash, which isn’t salty.
4. Pull the squash out of the oven and flip them over so that the cut side is facing up. Stuff the centers of each squash with the quinoa veggie mixture. Pack in as much filling as you can and pile some on top. Top each mound of stuffing with a scoop of marinara/tomato sauce. Sprinkle each squash with parmesan cheese.
5. Place back in the oven, uncovered, until the cheese starts to brown and bubble. About 15 minutes.
Note: This filling could also be used to stuff bell peppers, zucchini, or any kind of winter/fall squash.
Recipe by Edible Experiments