Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley, Kale, Dried Cranberries & Pecans

Stuffed acorn squash with barley, kale, dried cranberries & pecans

Sometimes jet lag beats you down.  Other times, it gets you up.  Literally.

After returning from the U.S. late Friday night, I spent most of the weekend with my face planted in my pillow.  This was the result of not sleeping much for the 48 hours surrounding the trip, with a wee bit of over-the-counter sleep aids thrown in for good measure.  I slept so much over the weekend that last night I went to bed without taking a sleeping pill, figuring I was “over it.”

I was wrong… Hello 12:45am!

But jet lag certainly makes time for all those things I didn’t get to whilst delightfully under the influence of said pills!

I enjoyed the autumn weather so much while in the U.S. last week, and its crisp coolness definitely inspired me to eat all things reminiscent of the season.  Fresh Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples, stove-top cooked oatmeal with maple syrup, warm baked sweet potatoes with pecans… I could not get enough.  Every morning I would go to Starbucks to have coffee and use their wifi, then stop by the natural grocery store to pick up whatever I was going to make for dinner.  It was my daily joy to peruse the produce aisles to see what would grab hold of me!

One day I walked in to be greeted by an entire bin full of winter squashes- on sale!  Acorn squash, butternut squash, delicata squash, spaghetti squash… you name it, it was there.  I recognise that most people do not get as excited about squash as I do, but I’m weird that way.  I love all types of squash…  There is just nothing bad and everything good about it!  Full of fiber, potassium, beta carotene, & Vitamin C, winter squash is pleasantly sweet, especially when it’s baked.  Acorn squash also makes the perfect serving size when sliced in half and stuffed with stuff.

So that’s what I did.

Stuffed acorn squash with barley, kale, dried cranberries & pecans

I concocted a simple filling with cooked barley (use quinoa if you want to go gluten-free), sautéed onions & kale, with some dried cranberries & pecans thrown in for flavour & crunch.   I also had some leftover cooked tempeh that I added for extra protein.   I baked the squash alone first (you can also use the microwave, but I don’t own one,) before stuffing it and baking it again.  The whole thing took about an hour, but only about 20 minutes of that was hands-on time.  The rest of it is baking time, that wonderful anticipation of waiting and watching while your dinner fills the whole house with lovely autumn aroma.

Stuffed acorn squash with barley, kale, dried cranberries & pecans
Bake the leftover filling in a separate dish- it’s delicious on its own too!

This was one of my favourite meals while back in Colorado.  It was beautiful, flavourful, colourful, healthy, and simply delicious.  When I make it here in Philippines, I’ll use the local kalabasa squash, which is much larger, like a pumpkin.  No more individual serving size!  But never mind, because in Philippines it’s all about sharing!!  And what could be nicer than that?

It’s good to be home.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley, Kale, Dried Cranberries & Pecans

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 squash half with filling

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley, Kale, Dried Cranberries & Pecans


  • 2 acorn squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • ¾ cup barley, cooked according to package directions (*can sub quinoa for GF)
  • 2 t. coconut or olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ t. ground coriander
  • ¼ t. cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 1 cup curly kale, chopped, tough stems removed
  • 2 T. dried cranberries (can sub dried cherries)
  • 2 T. chopped pecans
  • Optional: 4 oz tempeh, cooked according to package directions


  • Heat oven to 200C (400F.) Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray, and place squash face-down in dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until almost tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Sautee onions about 5 minutes until soft but not brown. Add coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, & pepper and cook one more minute to release flavours. Add kale and cook until it wilts, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in cooked barley (or quinoa), dried cranberries, pecans, and tempeh (if using), and heat through.
  • Stuff the filling into the squash halves, packing it down as much as you can. Mound up the filling on top of the squash to make it pretty. (You can bake any leftover filling in a separate dish covered with foil.)
  • Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until squash is completely tender and browned on the edges.
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2 thoughts on “Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley, Kale, Dried Cranberries & Pecans”

  1. Marilyn Duncan-Webb

    This looks delicious! Our grocery store is full of acorn squash this week, perfect for Canadian Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for including a GF option. I’d thought of quinoa as a substitute and it’s nice to have it confirmed as a good choice. Sorry about the jet lag! Hope you can get back into your usual rhythm soon.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Marilyn! This would be the perfect dish to either bring to a dinner or make for a main meal for a Thanksgiving celebration! 🙂 I thought of you when I was writing the recipe and you’re right, quinoa is the go-to GF option for this one. Enjoy! 🙂

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