Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
Stuffed Acorn Squash make for an easy and hearty vegetarian main course! Roasted acorn squash halves are filled with a simple mediterranean quinoa salad packed with arugula, chickpeas, scallions, tomatoes, and tangy feta.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
I’ve wanted to bring you this stuffed acorn squash recipe for some time now! This hearty vegetarian main course comes together fairly quickly (the bulk of the recipe time involves roasting the acorn squash) and is a wonderful springboard for all sorts of ideas and variations.
Using acorn squash halves as ‘bowls’ isn’t exactly new or groundbreaking, but it is fun and makes things extra easy in the kitchen. These stuffed acorn squash are filled with a delicious Mediterranean quinoa salad. I highly recommend pairing them with a generous drizzle of my favorite easy tahini sauce.
The bright and zesty Mediterranean quinoa salad, which is a simply mixture of canned chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions, cooked quinoa, feta, and arugula, is balanced by the sweetness of the roasted acorn squash. The dressing is a simple mixture of lemon zest, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and my favorite all-purpose spice: za’atar.
I’ve talked about my love for za’atar more times than I can count, but it is so versatile and gives every dish that pop of flavor that makes you pause and reach for more. I highly recommend stocking your kitchen with a jar of it. You can find za’atar in the Middle Eastern or Mediterranean aisle of some main stream grocery stores, specialty stores, or online.
You’ll find yourself reaching for it time and time again!
How to Pick and Store Winter Squash:
–> When shopping for winter squash, always choose a winter squash that feels heavy for its size. Look for hard, deep colored flesh with as few blemishes as possible. In this case, looks do matter. Tender rind = immature squash and thus, lackluster taste. If you can puncture the skin with your fingernail, put it back. Variations in color (with the exception of spaghetti squash) have little to no impact on flavor though.
–> Avoid storing winter squash near apples, avocados, and other ethylene producing fruits! This will speed up the ripening process.
How to Roast Acorn Squash:
–> Use a large chef’s knife to slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise. Since it is extremely tough, I always set my knife slightly off center to avoid the stem. Scoop and discard the seeds and fleshy bits.
–> I like to trim a small slice off the rounded side of the squash halves to ensure that they lay flat on the baking sheet. This will keep them steady.
–> Distribute the acorn squash halves cut-side up on the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. The skin will naturally begin to separate slightly from the flesh as it roasts, allowing them to be stuffed and practical as edible ‘bowls’.
Tips for Success: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- This recipe calls for cooked and cooled quinoa. I make a large batch of it on the weekends and use the leftovers for meal prep throughout the week. If you do not have cooked quinoa on hand, please refer to the cooking instructions in the recipe notes.
- As the acorn squash halves are roasting, prepare the base of the quinoa salad: chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, za’atar, salt, pepper. Allowing this mixture to marinate for 20 to 30 minutes will improve the overall flavor and seasoning.
- This salad tastes just as delicious on its own and makes for a wonderful make-ahead quinoa salad. It can be stored in a container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. The arugula will wilt, but hold surprisingly well.
More Winter Squash Recipes You’ll Love:
- 2 medium acorn squash, sliced in half lengthwise
- extra virgin olive oil (roughly 2 tablespoons)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- zest of 1/2 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 can (15 ounces) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup (3 - 4 ounces) halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon za’atar spice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa* (see notes)
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 and 1/2 packed cups (1.5 ounces) baby arugula
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center position.
- Using a large knife, carefully slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise. Scoop and discard any seeds and stringy fiber to reveal a ‘bowl’. Trim a very small slice off the rounded side of each half to ensure that the squash lays flat on the baking sheet. Brush the acorn squash flesh with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle evenly with kosher salt and pepper. Distribute the acorn squash halves, cut side up, on the sheet pan and roast until the acorn squash is caramelized and fork tender, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile as the squash is roasting, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions, za'atar, salt, and pepper. Allow the ingredients to marinate together while the acorn squash is roasting. Before serving, fold in the cooked quinoa, crumbled feta, and baby arugula. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Fill and distribute the quinoa salad into the roasted acorn squash bowls (the salad will overflow out of the top) and serve.
Tips for Success:
- How to Cook Quinoa: Combine 1 cup quinoa grains (rinsed well to remove the natural saponin layer, which has a soapy aftertaste), 2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 17 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has been completely absorbed. Fluff and cover for 5 minutes before serving. To cool quickly, spread in a even layer on a baking sheet. Yield: 3 cups cooked quinoa
- This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad tastes just as good on it's own and makes for a wonderful make-ahead dish. The arugula will wilt slightly, but will hold up in a separate container for at least 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
- While this dish can stand on its own, it tastes fabulous with a drizzle of this easy tahini sauce!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382 Total Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 19mg Sodium: 798mg Carbohydrates: 42g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 6g Protein: 12g