Roasted honeynut squash stuffed with quinoa, arugula, feta, nuts, and dried fruit make an incredibly healthy, delicious, and comforting meal that’s perfect to welcome the fall!
My sister is a firm believer that all things mini are cute. These little honeynut squash kind of prove her point. I didn’t know what they were, or even that they existed, until about 2 weeks ago when I saw them at Trader Joes. They were so cute, I just had to get them. I brought them home and did a quick Google search on them, and learned that they are baby butternut squash. I’m a fan of most any squash (and sweet potatoes). Squash just screams fall, and they’re so tasty, filling, versatile, and amazing in all aspects. Oh how endless are the possibilities of what you can do with these wonderful things! Normally I just roast my squash with a little salt and pepper and enjoy it plain, but I also love playing around with different recipes because there’s just so much you can do with it (I’m talking soup, salad, ice cream, bread pudding, pasta, smoothies, etc). This is my warning for everyone that there will be many more squash dishes to come!
A side note about the nuts and dried fruit: you have a lot of wiggle room here in terms of what kind you use, but I highly recommend that you don’t skip this part. The nuts and seeds add a nice crunch element while the dried fruit adds a pop of sweetness plus a chewy texture. Some suggestions are walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, golden raisins, chopped dried apricots, etc. I had a bag of trail mix with a combo of different things, and just picked out the chocolate chips. Was it annoying? Yes. Did i eat all the chocolate chips that I picked out? Yes. It all worked out in the end.
About the cheese. Feta works great in this dish in terms of flavor, texture, and everything else. I had some parmesan in the fridge, so once everything was done, I grated some over the top and stuck it back in the oven to get it all melty.
This is such a great dish because it’s easy to make, fun to eat, good for your health, and a great vegetarian option with vegan alternatives (use vegan cheese or omit the cheese, and cook the quinoa in veggie stock or water). But you could easily add some grilled chicken, salmon, or other protein to bulk it up even more. It also makes a great dish to give as a gift to a friend- someone who’s pregnant, someone who just got back from a long trip, someone who is like a helpless baby in the kitchen, or maybe someone who just needs a little something to smile about!
There’s no other way I’d want to welcome autumn (even though it seems like the weather will never cool down) than this super delicious, extremely healthy, and oh so fall dish! Enjoy!
- 2 honeynut squash (or butternut squash*) (see note)
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1.5 cups stock (veggie stock or water for vegan option)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (omit for vegan option)
- 1/3 cup mixed nuts and dried fruit** (see note)
- 2.5 cups arugula, loosely packed
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan, optional (omit for vegan option)
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon. Drizzle flesh with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Bake cut side down for 25-30 minutes, or until flesh is fork tender. Let cool. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out some of the flesh, leaving about 1/2 inch around the borders.
- While the squash is baking, prepare quinoa. Cook quinoa and stock in a pot over medium-high heat until boiling. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the quinoa is cooking, in a large pan, heat up olive oil and sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
- To the pan with onion and garlic, add cooked quinoa, feta cheese, mixed nuts and dried fruit, arugula, balsamic vinegar, and scooped out squash flesh. Mix to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Gently spoon quinoa mixture into each squash. Sprinkle with parmesan if using, and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.
- Serve with additional feta cheese and fresh arugula on top.
- * You can either use one regular to large butternut squash, or try to find 2 very small ones.
- **You can use any combination of nuts and dried fruit, but some suggestions are dried cranberries, golden raisins, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.