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Quinoa and apple stuffed honeynut squash on a serving platter.
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Quinoa, Apple & Spinach Stuffed Honeynut Squash

These vegetarian bombshells are a delicious main course or a stunning side dish! Honeynut squash halves are stuffed with a fragrant filling of quinoa, celery, apples, rosemary, thyme, spinach and pecans, and are capped with melted nutty Comté cheese. It’s the perfect dish for fall and winter and is a beautiful addition to the holiday table. Honeynut squashes look like mini butternuts but have a sweeter, richer flesh. If you can’t find them, you can use acorn squashes instead (if that’s the case, I like to add a touch of butter and maple syrup as noted in the recipe below, as the flesh isn’t quite as sweet as honeynuts). You’ll need cooked quinoa for this recipe (see note below), which can be made ahead. *For a vegan version, swap out the butter for olive oil and use a vegan cheese.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy honeynut squash recipe, honeynut squash recipe, stuffed honeynut squash
Servings: 4 -6 people


  • 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
  • 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.


Do Ahead:
  • The squash can be roasted up to 8 hours in advance. Leave it 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.
  • 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).
  • A grapefruit spoon is a great tool for scraping out the seeds of winter squashes!
  • Roasting the squash on parchment paper prevents sticking (I love these pre-cut sheets). You can use aluminum foil, but be sure to spray it with cooking spray or brush it with oil.
  • Don't miss these Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Honeynut Squashes!