Stuffed Squash with Fruit and Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

Cooking For Health - Squash Stuffed with a Quinoa Pilaf

Cooking For Health – Squash Stuffed with a Quinoa Pilaf

A recipe that’s Detox-Friendly – Pump up your servings of fruits, vegetables and grains…naturally

It’s December, and making healthful food choices can sure be a challenge!
Simply detoxify your body by pumping up your servings of fruits, vegetables and grains. Make sensible choices adding real, natural foods that are grown in the earth, replacing processed foods laden with chemicals and preservatives.

You can increase your energy and reset your frame of mind – end cravings and flush out toxins in your system (too much alcohol and pecan pie anyone?)

Our body has it’s own natural detoxification system, and there is a lot we can do to help out – by eating the right kinds of foods which many call “clean eating.”

This recipe is a perfect example of increasing your daily foods to include nourishing, naturally antioxidant choices.

Winter quashes (which are actually grown in the summer and harvested in the fall) contains only 80 calories a cup, are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C (50% of your daily needs!) magnesium and potassium (more than a banana!)

Detoxifying ingredients are in bold print.
Roasting a squash is a breeze, simply cut in half, scoop out the seeds and roast in the oven, cut-side down until softened.

A quinoa pilaf comes together quickly too! Rinsed quinoa is simply cooked in water with some turmeric (we’re detoxing…remember?) In 15 minutes you are ready to fluff the grains.
Sauté your ingredients in extra virgin olive oil – great choices are: baby portobello mushroomsshallots, garlic, kale and apples (with their skins on). Fresh cranberries (can use unsweetened dried too), lemon rind, parsley and basil will be added to the pilaf.

To serve, add the warmed pilaf, piled up, to the squash halves. Cut a wedge and enjoy!
Add a drizzle of my lemony tahini dressing and some sesame seeds for a extra boost of flavor, it’s optional but wonderful.

Remember, the word “detox” is mostly synonymous with overboard juice cleanses and a meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine free diet. But I’m suggesting refocusing on nutritious foods that happen to be quite tasty, and keep your body healthy and energized.

Acorn Squash (left) Blue Hubbard Squash (right)

Acorn Squash (left) Blue Hubbard Squash (right)

Ingredients for the Fruit & Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients for the Fruit & Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

Add some Lemony Tahini Dressing and toasted Sesame Seeds if desired

Add some Lemony Tahini Dressing and toasted Sesame Seeds if desired

Stuffed Squash with Fruit and Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1 ½ pounds squash, acorn or blue hubbard
  • ½ cup multi colored quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 cup filtered water
  •  teaspoon tumeric
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ½ cup shallots, peeled and chopped, or onions
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, peeled & minced
  • ¾ cup red apple, seeded and chopped, 3/4″ dice
  • 1 cup dinosaur kale, heavy ribs removed, sliced thinly (about 1/2 bunch)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • ½ of a lemon – rind, finely grated
  • ¼ cup fresh cranberries, see recipe – roasted*, or dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, cleaned, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, cleaned, sliced thinly


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a little neutral oil on the bottom of a baking pan. Cut the squash in half and place it cut side down in a pan to fit, cover with heavy foil and cook until softened, about 45 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water if you like to create steam.

Roast Cranberries* (or use unsweetened dried cranberries.)

Meanwhile make the quick quinoa:
Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of filtered, boiling water and turmeric. Cover and reduce to a simmer until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Pilaf Sauté:
In a large skillet, add 2 t. of olive oil, raise heat to medium-high. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and apple and cook for 2 minutes to soften. Add the reserved 1 t. olive oil, thinly sliced kale, and sauté for just 2 minutes until softened.
Add salt, pepper, lemon rind, the reserved cooked quinoa and cranberries. Stir up to incorporate all the flavors. Ready!

Quick Roasted Cranberries:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and dry 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to line a small baking dish. Add 1 t. neutral oil, the cranberries and 2 t. natural cane sugar.
Simply roast in the oven until the cranberries pop (will open up slightly) – for 5 minutes, or until done.

To Serve:
Add the warmed pilaf into the warmed cavities of the squash, piling high. Cut into large wedges. Any extra pilaf can be eaten another time (great cold too!)

Top with a drizzle of lemony-lemony tahini dressing (see recipe) and some toasted sesame seeds if desired.

This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.

Karen SheerKaren Sheer lives and cooks in Greenwich. She is a professional chef, writer, caterer, photographer and food consultant specializing in original recipes. Her blog is “A Zest For Life”– Karen’s Obsession with Food and Style.

Each recipe is inventive, original and well tested. Karen’s recipes are written to give you the feeling she is in the kitchen with you coaching step by step. Health and wellness are her passions. Karen’s recipes promote fresh, local ingredients which lead to a healthier lifestyle!