This recipe turns the unassuming acorn squash into an unexpected delight bursting with fall flavor. Once again, a time efficient recipe with easily acquired ingredients brings a thoughtful entree or side dish to the table. Individual servings are artfully presented with balsamic glaze and red pomegranate seeds as garnish. You can purchase prepared balsamic glaze and pomegranate seeds or we provide methods here to prepare your own.

Pomegranates are more than a pretty garnish. They are among the best zinc-rich fruits, essential for healing wounds and proper immune function. With a high number of antioxidants, pomegranates may help protect the body against inflammation and free radical damage. They are rich in potassium, vitamin C, K, fiber, natural sugars and proteins. 

How to Choose a Pomegranate and Remove Seeds

The best pomegranates are ripe, heavy for their size, with deep red to reddish-brown, and an even outer rind. When opened they reveal clusters of seeds called arils, which are filled with juice but covered in inedible white pith.

To remove seeds, use a sharp knife and slice off the crown. Score the pomegranate in quarters. Soak the whole fruit in cold water and gently pull the fruit apart into quarters. Use your fingers to separate the seeds in each quarter slice. The white membrane will float and is easily discarded. Then drain the water holding pomegranate seeds and let them air dry a bit before eating or storing.

Alternately, you can hold ½ or ¼ sections of a pomegranate with the flesh part against your palm and firmly tap the top skin side with a heavy cooking spoon or ladle, releasing seeds between your fingers into a bowl. This is quick and effective but may splatter a bit and some pith will need to be removed by hand. With either method, store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freezer up to 6 months.

Mushroom and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 300 kcal


  • 1 Rimmed baking sheet
  • 1 Large skillet with fitted lid


  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz mushrooms, small brown cremini, sliced
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup milk of choice
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoon Parmesan or other hard cheese, grated
  • 2-3 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  • ¼-½ cup pomegranate seeds


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut acorn squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Place squash flesh side down on baking sheet parchment and bake until squash is easily pierced through with a fork, about 30 minutes. When done, remove pan from oven and leave the oven on.
  • While the squash bakes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add sliced mushrooms, onions and cook until soft, 4-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in quinoa and cook 1-2 minutes to toast the quinoa somewhat.
  • Stir in broth, milk, remaining salt and black pepper. Add thyme sprigs and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until quinoa absorbs all liquid and is fluffy, 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove lid and remove thyme sprigs if used. Stir in 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. When melted turn heat off.
  • When squash is baked and removed, turn each half over in the baking pan and fill each equally with the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese on each half and return to oven until tops are golden and squash is hot, up to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and drizzle balsamic glaze over squash halves. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve right away.
  • Once baked the finished acorn halves can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Remove wrap and warm in oven at 350 degrees about 15 minutes or until hot.

To Make Balsamic Glaze

  • This is an extra step, but if you don’t have other uses for store bought balsamic glaze, it may make sense to make the glaze yourself, though store bought glaze will last un-refrigerated stored in a cool dark place for a few years.
  • In a small saucepan pour ½ cup balsamic vinegar and stir in1 tablespoon brown sugar. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes until the mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon when lifted, and reduces to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes before drizzling.