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Honeynut Squash Stuffed with Quinoa

Honeynut squash is the star of the seasonal dish that is packed with fall flavor and nutrition. Learn more about how the honeynut squash came about and how it’s different from a butternut squash!

What is a Honeynut Squash?

I first spotted the honeynut squash in the produce section at Trader Joe’s because it looked so dang cute! Smaller than a butternut squash, the honeynut squash is about about 6″ tall, and looks almost exactly like a butternut squash that was shrank in a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-style machine. And yes, that’s on purpose!

The honeynut squash was bred from other squash seeds. It was made smaller with taste in mind, which is different because most plants are bred for yield versus flavor.

Michael Mazourek, a professor in plant breeding and genetics at Cornell started by breeding two types of squash seeds together that had complementary characteristics. After those squash were harvested, he took seeds from that generation of squash and planted them. This “grandchildren generation” is when he started selecting the best of the best squash and collecting the highest quality seeds. As more generations grew, there was more uniformity in the squashes’ size, color, and texture. From there, Mazourek was able to to select the best possible Honeynut and grow more squash that were just like it.

He worked with Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which I had the privilege of visiting in the spring, to hone in on the flavor of this squash and make sure it was something that you and I would want to eat!

What’s super interesting is that when they were making this squash they were worried that it wouldn’t sell because it didn’t fit consumers perceptions of what squash should look like. And why would some one pay more for a smaller vegetable?! But with all our obsession with mini versions of things and tiny foods, I think this squash phenomenon is no different!

What Does a Honeynut Squash Taste Like?

Honeynuts have an intense natural sweetness that becomes rich, caramel-y, and almost malt-like when roasted at high heat, they don’t have to be peeled because they have thin skin (similar to a delicata), and they have have three times the amount of beta-carotene ( what gets converted into vitamin A in the body) packed in.

All orange and yellowy veggies are packed with beta-carotene. Once converted into vitamin A, is imperative for eye healthy and our immune systems. Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A too. Check out this article I contributed to in US News and World Report on the health benefits of pumpkin!

To me honeynut squash tastes nuttier and cooks a tad softer compared to butternut squash.

quinoa stuffed honeynut squash

How Do You Roast a Honeynut Squash?

You can simply roast a honeynut squash similarly to how you would roast a butternut squash by cutting it in half, removing the seeds and roasting it in the oven. You can actually eat the skin of a honeynut squash so no need to peel it unless you prefer not to eat it.

Cube the squash prior to roasting or leave it in two intact pieces if you plan to stuff it like in this recipe!

I also think roasted squash cubes are great in fall salads and grain bowls! If you’re making a pumpkin or butternut squash soup, you could also add roasted cubes it to to add even more flavor!

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quinoa stuffed honeynut squash

Quinoa Stuffed Honeynut Squash

  • Author: Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish/ entree
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: american

Description

Quinoa stuffed honeynut squash is a festive and nutritious plant-based meal that is easy to make and delicious! 


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 honeynut squash ( I find mine at Trader Joes)
  • 1 cup quinoa 
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 apple, diced 
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils 
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt + more to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper + more to taste 

Instructions

  1.  Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off of the honeynut squash, and then cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (you can roast these like you would pumpkin seeds if you want!) 
  4.  Place the squash skin side down on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and salt and pepper. 
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until fork tender.
  6. While the squash is cooking cook the quinoa according to package directions. 
  7.  Saute the spinach on a  medium pan on low heat until just wilted.  Wash and dice the apple into small pieces. 
  8. Once the quinoa is cooked combine quinoa, spinach, apple, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, and feta. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice and a little bit of salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Fill the hole in the butternut squash with the quinoa salad. Alternatively, you can cut up the squash (you can eat the skin!) and toss it with the quinoa salad for more of a grain bowl! 

Notes

This recipe is super interchangeable if you don’t have one of the ingredients, you can swap it out for another. For example kale or arugula can be used instead of spinach. You can use parmesan or goat cheese in place of feta. And if you can’t find a honeynut squash at your grocery store, you can use butternut squash! 

Fall in Love With These Other Fall Recipes Too

Pin this squash recipe for later!

Festive, delicious and super nutritious make this quinoa stuffed honeynut squash for a super easy weeknight meal! It's sweeter and nuttier tasting than a butternut squash and simple to roast! #honeynutsquash #quinoa #squash # fall #pomegranateseeds #pumpkinseeds #onceuponapumpki

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Carly

"Maggie did a great job of listening to my needs and offering practical, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions."
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