This healthy stuffed acorn squash includes a rice and bean filling with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. It works well as a side dish or even as a vegetarian main dish paired with a tossed green salad.
How to Make Stuffed Acorn Squash
To begin making this stuffed squash recipe, you have to cook the acorn squash. For this, there are two methods. One option is to cook it in an Instant Pot and another option is to roast it in the oven.
The Instant Pot Method: To begin cooking the squash, you can leave them whole. Simply poke holes all over the two squash with a small knife and place on a trivet in the Instant Pot bowl with 1 cup of water. Then, pressure cook on high for 20 to 25 minutes until fork tender. Next, before proceeding with the rest of the recipe, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. You can save the seeds to toast with spices to enjoy as a snack or to garnish soups or salads.
The Oven Method: For this method, you begin by cutting the squash in half and scooping out the seeds. Again, the seeds are great baked in the oven with your favourite spices until dried and crispy to enjoy as a snack. Next, you brush the squash flesh with a little oil and season the halves with salt and pepper before roasting them for 45 to 60 minutes in a 375°F oven in a baking dish or on a baking sheet.
Making the Stuffing
To make the stuffing, you will need some cooked brown rice. This is a wonderful place to use up leftover rice if you have it, even if you have seasoned it with herbs and spices already. Next, you combine the rice with cooked black beans, Parmesan cheese, cilantro, green onion, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt and ground black pepper.
This filling will be perfect to fill the four squash portions if you firmly pack it into a mound. The starchy rice will help hold everything together.
Baking the Stuffed Acorn Squash
After you preheat the oven, the final step is baking the squash in a 375°F oven until heated through, which is about 10 to 15 minutes. The Parmesan cheese should have melted slightly in this time too allowing the filling to meld together even further.
As an alternative, you could bake the squash halves under your oven broiler. The process will be faster but you will want to keep an eye on the squash to make sure they don't over-brown. Alternatively, you could use an air fryer lid instead.
Is it Necessary to Use Acorn Squash?
If you can't find acorn squash in your local grocery store or farmer's market, there are other options that could work well. I recommend that you use something similar in size, such as a buttercup squash or the rounded end of smaller butternut squash instead. However, do use acorn squash if you can find it as it has a uniquely nutty and sweet taste.
Variations on Filling Ingredients
Even if you don't have all of the ingredients on hand to follow this stuffed squash recipe exactly, you can still make something in the realm of it at home. For example, the brown rice can easily be replaced with white rice or whatever rice you have leftover in your refrigerator from a previous meal.
Meanwhile, if you aren't a fan of cilantro, you can replace it with another herb like earthy parsley or dill. Additionally, in place of the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds will work well. These are smaller seeds than pumpkin seeds but tend to have a more robust flavour that is incredibly pleasant in a stuffing like this.
Can I Make the Stuffed Acorn Squash Ahead of Serving?
You could prepare the squash about a day in advance of serving and reheat the squash close to the meal. Making the stuffed squash ahead is particularly handy if you plan to make a larger batch for a group of people at an elaborate meal. The harvest flavours of this roasted acorn squash dish are particularly wonderful in the fall, so you might want to consider making these as a side dish to go with your next Thanksgiving feast.
Simply cook the squash, mix the filling, and stuff the squash. Then, allow everything to cool to room temperature, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate until the next day when you plan to heat them. Just note that the squash halves may need a little longer to heat than the 10 to 15 minutes since they will have been chilled in the fridge. However, a way to speed them up would be to pull the squash out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so before heating it so that they can come up to room temperature.
Other Squash Recipes You'll Love:
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 cup black beans cooked or canned & rinsed
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, sesame
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
Cook the Acorn Squash
- Instant Pot: Poke holes into the squash. Add 1 cup water, trivet and squash and cook on high pressure for 20 - 25 minutes; then quick release pressure. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
- Oven: Cut acorn squash in half & scoop out seeds. Brush inside with oil and season with salt & pepper. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and roast in 375°F oven for 45-60 minutes.
Stuffing Acorn Squash
- In a bowl stir together all the stuffing ingredients: brown rice, black beans, Parmesan, cilantro, green onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the filling between the 4 acorn squash halves and shape into a tightly packed mound.
- Return the stuffed acorn squash to the oven and bake until everything is heated through and the Parmesan melty (10-15 minutes).
- Alternatively, use the broiler function of your oven or an air fryer lid on top of your pressure cooker.