Recipe: Quinoa and Chicken Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hey hey! We've made it to my second recipe post!

Winter squash varieties have been on repeat for me for the past few months: butternut, delicata, and acorn squash that is. There are really just so many ways to eat them and include them in every day meals - from roasting with a little black pepper, to topping a salad, and in this case...STUFFING!

This recipe was inspired by various mouthwatering images on Pinterest of stuffed acorn squash. Is it a quick weeknight meal? Not entirely...unless you prep all the slicing and dicing beforehand. But it IS simple, and using two squashes makes 4 servings! So if it's just for you and your boo, then there will definitely be enough for the next night. And who doesn't love time-saving (AND nutritious) leftovers?

If for some reason or another you might think this recipe won't be filling enough, think again. 99.9% of the time, my boyfriend Kevin has seconds and/or has to raid the fridge after dinner. He says it isn't because we don't make enough food, he just loves to eat and says he only stays full for like 3 minutes...ha. But after this squash, I am telling you he was absolutely stuffed. 

I say you don't need to be eating until you're so full you can barely get up from your seat. But do enjoy each bite, and then save the what's left over...perhaps for the next day's lunch?

I also loved this recipe because even though it is nutritionally dense and very satisfying, the seasonings also gave a light, fresh taste. Basically, the whole thing makes you say "This is what fall tastes like."

Now it's time to go over some nutrition info!

Acorn Squash: Like other squashes, acorn squash is rich in Vitamin A and C. These are both essential for a healthy immune system. And what better time of year to be filling our bodies with disease-fighting properties? About half a cup of acorn squash also has around 20% of your daily recommended fiber intake! To cook, I love to cut it into rounds and roast with the skin on, cut in half and roasted - eaten by itself or stuffed with goodies, or mashed up like potatoes!

Quinoa: I wish so badly I had incorporated quinoa into my life earlier! My whole life was rice rice rice, which I still love, but quinoa offers just a little extra. Quinoa is a grain, but technically we eat the edible seeds. It is an amazing source of fiber, provides 8g plant-based protein per cup, and various other vitamins and minerals, including iron. Quinoa is one of those "staple foods" that you could prepare at the beginning of the week and use as a base for various this one!

Pomegranate: I actually love pomegranate so much that I will be doing a post later on that focuses solely on the benefits of poms. (Kevin even joked that my blog name should have been The Pom Queen, but apparently that was already taken by either cheerleaders or a Pomeranian lover.) Anyway, don't ever say you don't eat fruit in the winter because there aren't any...because there ARE! Frozen summer fruits, citrus fruits, and of course pomegranate. Rich in antioxidants and versatile as well. I love adding it salads, yogurt, oatmeal. However, Kevin tends to eat the bowl of pomegranate seeds before I can get to it.

(For the meat, I choose chicken sausage most of the time because it is less fatty than pork.)

Recipe: Quinoa and Chicken Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves: 4

2 acorn squash
3/4 cup dried quinoa (Can also used precooked quinoa - saves time!)
4-5 links chicken sausage (I LOVE Trader Joe's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage for this!)
2 celery stalks
1/2 pomegranate seeds
1/2 medium-sized onion
Grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Black pepper
Dried sage
Dried thyme
Dried parsley
(Can use fresh herbs if you've got them!)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Cut very tips off of each squash, then cut them in half. Scoop out the insides (Seeds can be roasted later!).
3. Drizzle with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until fork tender
4. Meanwhile, cook quinoa per package instructions.
5. Dice sausage, onion, and celery stalk
6. Sauté onion and sausage in a heated, oiled skillet for about 5-7 minutes. Then, mix in cooked quinoa, diced celery, and pomegranate seeds.
7. Season as desired with herbs. (Note: I am terrible at measuring herbs and spices. If I were to measure, about 1 tsp of each  should be sufficient - then adjust for optimal taste as desired) Toss in pan.
8. Remove acorn squash from oven and fill each with desired amount of stuffing mixture. There will likely be some left over depending on the size of your lunch. It makes a great side dish or salad topper for another meal!
9. Top each with a little grated parmesan and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy! And feel free to experiment with various ingredients! If you've got a acorn squash recipe you're dying to tell me about, please share :)