Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

I made this Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash on Thanksgiving as an alternative to turkey for anyone wanting more vegetarian style fare and it was a HIT!

The combination of squash, dried cranberries and almonds just scream fall to me. Not to mention the colours in this dish are stunning and literally resemble those of fall leaves, can you see it? This was completely unintentional by the way.

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I never used to take such care in food presentation but in past few years I’ve really come to realize the importance of it. Aesthetics matter when it comes to our food because we eat with our eyes first, right? I’m sure you’ve noticed that this is especially true on social media when it comes to food photography.

Of course, the photos I take for Instagram are stylized and often look very different than what I serve on the daily. Again, this goes back to aesthetics. If I were to post a photo haphazardly in low lighting, no props, no stylizing…I can guarantee it would look very unappealing. And I’m positive you’d be less enticed to recreate it for yourself. I’m sure if you scroll back to some of my older photos on Instagram, you can see this first hand. I make a really big effort to showcase the recipes I’m creating in the most beautiful way that I’m capable of. I do this so that you’re more likely to TRY the healthy and delicious food that I’m putting out there. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? My goal, after all, is to get you eating healthier foods all while proving to you that healthy can also be DELICIOUS.

With that said, It’s important to realize that what you see on Instagram and social media is curated. It’s not always real life. What I’m serving day to day doesn’t look quite as put together as what you see on my social media. However, I still try to keep presentation in mind especially when I’m making meals for my family or whenever we’re hosting because I want everyone to be excited about the food they’re about to eat. My fellow foodies will totally understand this :P

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I also made a few of the stuffed squash halves with bacon as you can see pictured above, for the non-vegetarians at our table. This of course, is optional. I also put a bowl of crumbled organic feta on the side for anyone who wanted to add it over top. I love both the additions of bacon and/or feta - they add this really nice saltiness as well as some texture to the dish.


Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Serves 2-4


2 butternut squash
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 small shallots, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup kale, chopped
sea salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups quinoa, dry
1 2/3 cup veggie stock
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Optional: crumbled bacon and/or organic feta


  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside for now.

  2. Prepare the butternut squash: cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and place them flesh side up on the cookie sheet. Rub them with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until fork tender and golden brown. {When squash is about halfway done roasting, prepare the stuffing}.

  3. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and warm through. Add shallots and sauté for a few minutes.

  4. Add red pepper, zucchini, kale and a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. You can use the extra tablespoon of olive oil here if the pan looks dry.

  5. Add dry quinoa to the pan with the veggie stock and bring to a boil. Cover and let it simmer until the liquid is fully absorbed - about 15 minutes.

  6. Remove pan from the heat, add lemon zest, lemon juice, dried cranberries and let it sit for about 10 minutes, keeping it covered.

  7. When squash is done and slightly cooled, stuff it with quinoa veggie stuffing. (you may want to use a spoon to scoop out some of the butternut squash flesh, so that the stuffing sits in them more evenly).

  8. Add fresh arugula, toasted almonds, & if desired, bacon and/or feta over top of the stuffed squash and serve immediately.

Butternut squash is definitely one of my favourite fall veggies. What’s yours? Share with me 👇🏽

Don’t forget to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @valeriepiccitto

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