These quinoa and apple stuffed honeynut squash with a melted layer of Comté cheese are a stunning vegetarian side dish or a delicious main course!
Honeynut squash: the cutest new vegetable in town
I am so excited about this honeynut squash recipe. Last year the little squashes started appearing in our market, and they immediately stole my heart. They look like mini butternuts, with a rich, buttery and sweet flesh. Last fall they inspired these Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squashes, which quickly became one of our favorite fall meals. I can now say the same thing about these vegetarian bombshells (which can also be made with acorn squash, if you can’t find honeynuts). They’d make for a gorgeous vegetarian side dish or main course on a holiday table, but are easy enough for any average Wednesday. (Watch the new video!)
The quinoa filling was loosely inspired by my favorite stuffing recipe, which has onions, celery, apples, rosemary and thyme as the base. I also added a pinch of cinnamon to provide sweetness and warmth, as well as spinach, quinoa and pecans for substance. The stuffing gets piled into the squash cavities, and is then sprinkled with nutty Comté cheese (or you could use Gruyere). After a brief stint in a hot oven, they emerge with a golden, melted cap.
James has already begged me to make this recipe several times, which is a sure of a WIN. While we’ve been devouring them as a healthy mid-week meal, they’d also be a beautiful addition to a Thanksgiving spread. I hope you love them as much as we do!
Get the recipe!
Quinoa & Apple Stuffed Honeynut Squash with Comté Cheese
- 4 small or 3 medium honeynut squashes or 2 acorn squashes, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out and discarded
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ medium onion, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ½ green apple, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups cooked red quinoa, see notes below
- ½ cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- 1 cup shredded Comté cheese (or you could use Gruyere)
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast until tender, 25-30 minutes for honeynut squash, or 40-50 minutes for acorn squash. Remove the pan from the oven and flip each squash over so that the cut side is facing up. Set aside (if there’s a lot of liquid on the pan, transfer the squash halves to a clean parchment-lined pan). Increase the oven temperature to 550˚F.
- While the squash bakes, make the filling. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, apple, rosemary, thyme and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables and apples are tender, about 2-3 minutes longer. Pile in the spinach, and cook, stirring, until wilted.
- Stir in the quinoa, and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the broth and cook, stirring, until mostly absorbed. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the apple cider vinegar and pecans. Season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Season the squash halves with salt and pepper (if using acorn squash, I like to dot the top of the squash with a few small pieces of butter and drizzle them with a little maple syrup, as acorn squash isn’t quite as rich and sweet as honeynut). Scoop the filling into each squash cavity (an ice cream scoop works great for this), mounding it firmly. Pile the cheese over the filling.
- Roast the stuffed squash in the 550˚F oven until the cheese is lightly toasted, about 4-6 minutes.
- You’ll need to start with ¾ cup of dry quinoa to yield at least 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well, then place it in a small saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit 10 minutes, covered, to steam. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Measure out 2 cups for the recipe (you’ll have leftover quinoa, which you can toss is salads or use in grain bowls).
- The squash can be roasted up to 8 hours in advance. Leave at room temperature.
- The stuffed squash without the cheese can sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours or can be refrigerated for up to 1 day (bring to room temperature before proceeding). Add the cheese before baking.