Acorn Squash & Quinoa Risotto


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5-10 garlic cloves, minced (use as much as you want depending on your preference for garlic)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onions (about 2 small yellow onions)
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (can also use 1/3 cup white wine)
  • 2.5 cups mashed acorn squash (about ½ acorn squash)
  • 3 cups water (can use chicken or vegetable stock for more flavor)
  • ¼ cup shredded romano or parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp basil + 1 tsp oregano + 1 tsp rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut the acorn squash in half using a large chef’s knife. Scoop out the seeds and pulp using a large spoon. Place on a microwave safe dish, cut side up, and microwave for 6-8 minutes on high until soft. Remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, scoop out the squash using a large spoon and place in a bowl. Mash with a fork. Measure out 2.5 cups and set aside. The extra squash can be saved in the fridge for up to a week.
  2. Place olive oil and onions in a saucepan over medium heat. Sautee until the onion begins to soften (about 2 minutes), then add the garlic. Sautee until garlic begins to brown (about a minute).
  3. Add the quinoa to the saucepan. Stir and cook until the quinoa begins to toast and give off a nutty smell, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the balsamic vinegar or white wine and stir until it has evaporated. For the balsamic vinegar, this will happen almost right away. The white wine will take a little longer, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add 1 cup of the water or broth. Cook and stir until the water has been absorbed. Add another cup of water or broth. Continue cooking and stirring until it is absorbed.
  6. Add the mashed squash to the pot. Mix to incorporate.
  7. Pour in the remaining water or broth and continue stirring until the water is mostly absorbed and the risotto is creamy.
  8. Stir in the cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!

Nutritional Benefits

  • Acorn squash: vitamins A & C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, B vitamins, iron, folate, fiber
  • Quinoa: B vitamins, iron, folate, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, protein, fiber
  • Onions & garlic: vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, phosphorus, fiber
  • Olive oil: heart-healthy unsaturated fat


While I prefer the texture of quinoa, brown rice, bulgar, and sorghum also work well.

For a vegan version, the cheese can be replaced with 2-3 tablespoons of cashew butter or pureed cashews for a bit of cheesy flavor.

2-3 teaspoons of garlic powder can be used in place of garlic cloves.

Butternut squash or pureed pumpkin can be used 1:1 in place of the acorn squash. Both lend a slightly sweeter flavor to the recipe.



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