amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Stuffed summer squash

POSTED ON September 4, 2011

stuffed summer squash with pesto infused quinoa and roasted cherry tomatoes

I have made these lovely little stuffed squash a couple of times over the summer to rave reviews. This is a great way to take advantage of any shape of summer squash you may find at the market or have growing in your garden. I loved stuffing the round, 8-ball and avocado squash as the larger ones are a perfect main course size, but large patty pan also work well and you can use more small squash per person if that’s what you have on hand.


beautiful summer squash and a purple pepper

I hesitated to post the recipe because I haven’t measured the amounts of quinoa, tomatoes and pesto needed to fill squash – it does really depend upon what size your squash are. I found everyone was happy to have left over components anyway, so I’ll do my best. But, please think of this recipe as more of a guide to the last of summer’s abundance.

cherry tomatoes

roasted cherry tomatoes

making pesto

hollowed out squash

roasted squash

quinoa, pesto, pinenuts and caramelized onions

without their tops on

different shaped squash

Stuffed summer squash with pesto infused quinoa and roasted cherry tomatoes

This is a great dish to prepare for a dinner party as it can be made in advance and then warmed in the oven for 20 minutes or so. It goes really well with an arugula salad and balsamic dressing.

I made the pesto for this batch with Parmesan, for a vegan version go here.

Any leftover pesto can be stored in a jar, just cover with a layer of olive oil and keep in the fridge, it will last a few weeks or longer.

1 cup quinoa, soaked over night in filtered water

½ cup pine nuts, divided

Extra virgin olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, cut in ¾ inch cubes

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 cups grape or cherry tomatoes

2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed

2 cloves garlic

Parmesan cheese, about 2oz

Juice of half a lemon

Variety of large round summer squash; like 8 ball, Avocado or patty pan.

Drain and rinse quinoa, place in a small pot and add 1 ½ cups of boiling water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Warm a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the pine nuts. Shake pan and reduce heat to low. Stirring nuts constantly until they are fragrant and golden. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat; add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and onions. Stir every minute or so until onions begin to soften and brown in parts, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar and continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes or until onions are caramelized and very soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, place basil, remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan, if using. Drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, taste for salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Blend again, if it’s too thick add a little more olive oil.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Toss, spread out into a single layer and roast for 20 minutes or until they are collapsed and browning in parts. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on.

Lay squash on its side on a cutting board, slice stem end off to create a lid for the stuffing. Sit squash upright, use a small spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/3 inch around the edges and bottom. You can keep the squash flesh to use in soup, saute’s or other dishes. Repeat with remaining squash. Place them all on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub oil evenly over and inside each squash and top. Place tops and bottoms cut side down on tray and roast for about 20 minutes or until squash is beginning to brown around edges and flesh is soft but not falling apart. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees fahrenheit if you are planing to serve squash.

Place cooked quinoa in a bowl and break apart any clumps with your fingertips. Put pine nuts on a cutting board and gently crush, either using a pestle or rolling pin; you could also roughly chop them. Add to quinoa along with the caramelized onions and a few spoons of pesto; mix well and taste for seasoning. Add more pesto until you get a good green looking quinoa, which should taste delicious. If you have a lot of remaining juice from roasting the cherry tomatoes, then add it to the quinoa, it has so much flavor!

Once the squash are cool enough to handle, hold each one in the palm of your hand and fill half way with quinoa mixture, gently packing it in. Spoon in a few cherry tomatoes. Add more quinoa to fill squash to the top. Place in a baking dish and repeat with remaining squash.

Before putting their tops on evenly distribute the remaining roasted cherry tomatoes; you can also pour over more juice from tomatoes, if you have any extra. Put their tops on and they are ready to go back into the oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through. You can also store them in the fridge or on a warm day enjoy them at room temperature.

Makes about 8 large stuffed squash.

POSTED IN Gluten free, Grains, Mains

TAGGED UNDER: basil, cherry tomatoes, pesto, quinoa

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  • Desi says:

    Amy, I LOVE this recipe… Have never made stuffed squash before, but I’m a huge fan of stuffed peppers and Thai curry served in Kabocha squash! Yum. Can’t wait to try this! Plus, they’re so darn cute…

  • they’re adorable and look absolutely delicious. Pesto gives depth to everything to which it’w added.

  • Sarah B says:

    Hi Amy!
    I just found your GEM of a blog today and I am totally thrilled! I have gone back and looked at many of your recipes and bookmarked my favorites (vegan pumpkin scones!? HELLO!) Thanks for creating such an amazing site with high-vibe recipes for us all.

    Peace and Bless, Sarah B.

  • Emma says:

    I love these little beauties. They’d be undoubtedly tasty with some of my favourite ingredients but they look so damn cute with their little hats on 🙂

  • healthy educator says:

    Hi, I really like your blog. Do you have an amazing new recipes for quinoa cakes? They’re all the rave out here in California and I would love to find a great new recipe.

  • I love this recipe and blog…I posted it on my community foodie blog. Hope you can come check it out

    Also, feel free to post you’re recipes or you’re favourite foodie tips on it whenever you like!

  • Evelyn B says:

    Something is missing from this recipe – there isn’t anywhere in the instructions where it tells us to roast the tomatoes (or how to do that), but towards the end of the instruction it mentions to use the extra juice from roasting the tomatoes in the quinoa.
    Also, I don’t see anywhere that it has us do anything with the insides of the squash that we scooped out.
    Could you please review/revise this & clarify?

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