Cheesy Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Cheesy Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

I bought a few beautiful acorn squash at the market and then they sat in my pull out pantry. For like, three weeks. I just wasn’t sure what to do with them and I knew the kids would fight me no matter what. You know what kids? Sometimes its not about you. This recipe was so scrumptious my husband declared “are you blogging this? You need to.”

Truth be told, the first version of this didn’t have cheese. Though I’d made the recipe during naptime (I’m a naptime dinner maker), the cheese idea came into the picture around 6 when I put the squash in the oven to reheat. Sharp cheddar goes so well with apple and chicken, so I added it to the top. Turns out the cheese is what catapulted the recipe from good to great, as it so often does.

For the kids I scraped out the filling from one of the squash and split it between their plates. They took a few bites and passed, but “you can be hungry till breakfast” is something I say so often it doesn’t even give me pause. Don’t feel bad for them, there were other things on their plates I knew they would eat and enjoy.

Turns out acorn squash tastes more like sweet potato than it does butternut. One time I ate a cold, cooked sweet potato as a snack on the beach, so obviously I’m a fan. I enjoyed the kids’ squash without the filling for some extra vitamin A and fiber (and because it was delicious). Lastly – a quick word on the microwave. If I’m short on time I like to precook squash or sweet potatoes in the microwave and then finish them off in the oven. Cut in half, scrape the seeds, and place cut side up in the microwave. Run for about five minutes (with 1 squash) and then finish in the oven for 10-15 to get roasty toasty.

Cheesy Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4-6

3 acorn squash, cut in half vertically (stem up), seeds removed

Salt and Pepper

2 c. chopped Rotisserie chicken

1 c. cooked quinoa (1/2 c. uncooked)

1 peeled, grated Granny Smith apple

1/4 c. craisins, optional

1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. maple syrup

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Fresh Parsley

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Spray squash with cooking spray (or rub with 1 tbsp. olive oil) and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes. *Alternately, microwave cut squash for 5 minutes and then roast for 15 minutes. 

3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine chicken, quinoa, apple, craisins (if using), and 1/2 c. grated cheese.

4. In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Let cook until nutty smelling and golden brown. Remove from heat.

5. Add lemon juice, maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and pepper. Pour over chicken mixture and toss to combine.

6. Fill cavities of cooked squash with mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. Top with parsley and serve.

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