Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash | nutritionstripped.comI’m taking a break from the holiday sweet recipes today by sharing with you all one of my favorite entrees I make regularly, Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash. I’m sprucing this staple dinner of mine up for the holidays by adding some special ingredients I think you’ll love. It’s perfect for the holiday table because of it’s beautiful presentation, but it’s also great to make anytime of year for one or two!

This recipe is by far one of my favorites I have up my sleeve (or should I say in the kitchen?), it’s satisfying, delicious, gluten free, and vegan friendly. You can easily cater this dish to your needs and add in or replace something you may not be too keen on, but there’s one ingredient you can’t skimp on, sumac! The citrus components in this recipe not only come from fresh lemon, which I love putting in quinoa, but my all time favorite citrus-y spice, sumac.

Sumac (sue-mack) is an incredibly gorgeous crimson spice cultivated from the sumac flower/”drupes” and is used mostly in Middle Eastern cuisines, Turkish, Arab, and Iranian cuisines (salad/meat flavoring, in hummus, on kebabs, and in seasoning mixes respectively). Sumac is naturally bright, citrusy, and fragrant and is perfect for adding a little zest to any meal. I also love sprinkling a little sumac on top of my Massaged Kale Salads to add a bit more lemony flavor.

Pilaf technically involves rice, but I choose to use quinoa to boost the fiber, plant protein, and I adore the texture far more than rice. This is a play on traditional pilaf as I still use dried fruits in the form of cranberries, and nuts/seeds in the form of mineral rich pumpkin seeds. As a whole, this recipe is high in fiber, plant proteins, healthy fats, and good-for-you carbohydrates.

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash | Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash | nutritionstripped.comCitrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash |

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious gluten free entree filled with plant protein from citrus and sumac infused quinoa, stuffed into soft acorn squash.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2-4
  • QUINOA //
  • 1 cup quinoa, multi colored
  • 1½ cups filtered water (may add additional if needed to cook the quinoa)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ heaping teaspoon ground sumac
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ tablespoon zest of lemon
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon parsley
  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop the seeds out of the center creating a "bowl"
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil into each center of the two halves of the squash.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until soft.
  7. QUINOA //
  8. Rinse thoroughly until water is clear.
  9. Bring water to a boil and add quinoa, cook for 20 minutes (you may need to add additional water in as needed).
  10. You'll know when the quinoa is done when it's fluffy and the sprout "tails" come out.
  11. Fluff with a fork until light and fluffy.
  12. In a large bowl, combine quinoa with all remaining ingredients (spices, olive oil, seeds, cranberries, lemon, etc.).
  13. ASSEMBLY //
  14. Stuff the acorn squash with the quinoa and pack in until each acorn squash halve is full (you will have leftover quinoa- I serve this on the side).
  15. Drizzle the top of the stuffed acorn squash with olive oil (just a bit!) and top with fresh sprig of rosemary.
  16. Bake again for 10 minutes or until the top of the quinoa is a bit crisp and golden brown.
  17. Serve with additional quinoa on the side.
  18. Enjoy!

TIP // keep as leftovers for the week, next days lunch or dinner by storing in a tupperware container so the acorn squash stays upright!

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash |

Be sure to “SAVE” this recipe in your Recipe Box for later safekeeping or until the holiday! I hope you all enjoy this one as much as I LOVE it! Have you all ever used sumac before? Share below your ideas so I can try them out as well! Be sure to stay tuned next week for a whole week devoted to sweet healthy treats!

Have a beautiful day and weekend everyone!

xo McKel

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  1. Terri says

    This looks wonderful! I’ve never used sumac, and Im going to look for it at the stores in my area- but if I can’t find it, is there any appropriate substitute?


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