Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries

Nutty quinoa is magical paired with sweet maple syrup, pungent cinnamon and tart cherries

Late on a Friday, shoppers trolled the aisles in a nearby grocery whose shelves are lined with hard-to-find international ingredients as coveted by gourmet cooks as appreciated by immigrants longing for familiar tastes of home.

One shopper studied his list, peered at labels, checked the list again. An observant grocery manager asked to help, thought for a moment but shook his head. “Naw, we don’t carry that.”

Then his face brightened. “Whole Foods!” he said, naming the upscale organic market some miles away. “They’ll have it for sure.”

Curious, I approached. What hard-to-find item was the shopper hunting? He consulted the list again, then carefully enunciated, “Tepid water.”

Is quinoa as unfamiliar to you as -- get this, warm tap water -- was to the puzzled shopper? Change that with this week’s squash. It’s stuffed with the nutty-flavored, high-protein, quick-cooking grain that’s pronounced, carefully now, KEEN-wa.

MICROWAVE ACORN SQUASH Make quick work of acorn squash in the microwave, although it’s not recommended for this week’s recipe where oven time brings out both flavor and color. Just place the cleaned squash halves face-down in a microwave-safe dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap and cook on full power for about 10 minutes.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food writer Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Send a favorite recipe for fall vegetables to e-mail.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 1 hour
Serves 4
  • 2 acorn squash, washed
  • Olive oil

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well

  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries, preferably halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, preferably toasted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and membrane. Rub skin and cut edge with oil.

Place squash face-down on a baking dish (preferably one with sides as high as the squash halves) and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, return to a boil and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until liquid cooks away. Stir in the fruit, nuts, maple syrup, butter and cinnamon.

Mound the quinoa mixture in the squash halves. Cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 290 Cal; 9g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 49g Carb; 6g Fiber; 620mg Sodium; 8mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 6 points

More Favorite Fall Recipes

(click a photo for a recipe)
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~ more fall recipes ~


Be sure to cover the quinoa while it cooks, otherwise it won't puff up.
Keep your eyes peeled for small acorn squash the size of oranges not grapefruit.
If your family doesn't like the sweetness of cinnamon in savory dishes, it can be omitted.

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Sounds like the grocery clerk was barely warm.

You're punny, I mean funny, Kevin, although he IS really helpful. And when I tell this story, it always takes people a minute to think, hmm, what IS tepid water?!!

Tonight this will be on the menu in Port Hope Ontario. I reaaly enjoy these main ingredients so I know it will be a hit with me and a few friends!!!
That's a good one, Alanna. Sort of sad, but understandable. I mean, how often do we use the word "tepid" in conversation?

I'm always looking for more good ways to use quinoa -- this recipe looks excellent. Can't wait to try it! I keep collecting ideas for Thanksgiving...there's no way I can make them all at this point, but this is on the list of possibilities!

The Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cherries is to die for. It was my family's first experience with quinoa, and they raved over the dish. Thank you. I will make this one again and again.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna