alex thomopoulos

Gluten Free Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pesto

As I have started consume less and less meat in my diet, I am constantly looking for delicious, filling and healthy meal options.
This recipe is BEYOND delicious, I have began serving it to my friends and family and have received nothing but rave reviews. It’s incredible how tasty and delicious vegetables can be if you cook them right.

This recipe can be totally adapted to your tastes as well, use any and every vegetable that suits your fancy. My trick is to cook on a relatively high heat so the vegetables get nice caramelization. Make sure to season with a touch of salt and pepper every step to ensure maximum flavor as well. When you cook your quinoa, cook it a few minutes under what the package says, you want the quinoa to still have some bite to it.

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This is a great dish to serve to a crowd too! Easy to prep, and you can hold them for at least a whole day! For best results tho, I would roast off the acorn squash before you want to serve it but can be done up to a few hours before.  You can easily make the quinoa veggie mixture up to 2 days in advance!

I hope enjoy this as much as I do!

Gluten Free Stuffed Acorn Squash

(serves 4)
  • 2 medium acorn squash, halved down the middle, seeds removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the filling
  • 1 leek, light green part only, halved and sliced and rinsed well
  • 1 cup of sliced baby portabello mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • handful of chopped kale or spinach
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • For the pesto:
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each squash so that the squash will have a sturdy base. Drizzle olive oil over the squash, sprinkle salt and pepper over the top and rub it all over. Place the squash flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake until golden and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn them right side up and set aside.
  2. For the filling: In a large skillet heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat, add leeks and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in sliced mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms get a bit of color on them. Add in zucchini, broccoli, garlic and bell pepper, sprinkle everything with a good pinch of salt  and cook for another 5-6 minutes stirring every minute or so.
  3. Once the vegetables are nice and tender toss in a hand full of spinach and let the heat from the vegetables naturally wilt the spinach, while maintaining it’s vibrant green color. Transfer the filling into a large bowl bowl and add in cooked quinoa. Mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning.
  4. For the pesto: combine the parsley, basil, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until it’s a smooth paste. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper in and with the machine running slowly stream in the olive oil. Turn machine off and transfer to a small bowl.
  5. To assemble: Spoon the filling into each cooked acorn squash.  You have the option to top with a cheese of your choice or leave it plain.  Turn your broiler on and place the squash on to a sheet tray, place the sheet tray in the middle of your oven. Broil for 1-2 minutes, until the top gets some color and the cheese is melted.
  6. To serve: drizzle ample amount of your pesto on top and dig in!


Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the first of MANY e-cookbooks! I put a lot of heart and soul into this little thing, so I hope you enjoy it!  Included in this e-cookbook are some of my best recipes yet! Including how to make a killer homemade gluten free pasta, biscuits and gravy, soups, cocktails […]

Dinner Party for under $30 and A Night of 1000 Dinners

“140 million children have lost one or both parents. For every three months spent in an orphanage, a child loses one month of developmental skills. Worldwide Orphans brings play, education, health and psychosocial development to orphans and vulnerable children through our programs focused on attachment, early intervention, healthcare and the arts. We work closely with communities to build capacity and raise awareness of the critical importance of play to help address the effects of trauma in children.”

– Worldwide Orphans


Recently, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with an incredible charity called Worldwide Orphans and this week I am participating in their “Night of 1000 dinners” to help raise awareness and funds for orphans and at risk children. Worldwide Orphans is an incredible organization that was introduced to me by my friend Connie Britton, who’s giant heart for others and dedication to making the world a better place inspires me everyday. When she mentioned the idea of Night of a 1000 dinners, I jumped at the opportunity.

The idea is simple. Throw a party, start the conversation, and raise awareness. I believe nothing brings people together like breaking bread at a table, and it’s even better when it’s for a good cause. Food is the powerful language of the world and can be used to gather people in a way that allows us all to feel a part of a community and more importantly, loved. It’s important to share that love with others and that’s why the Night of a 1000 dinners is so important to me.

Too often we take for granted the love that we receive everyday, especially the love that we get from a parent. I can’t imagine going through life not knowing the sweet loving touch of my mother’s hand when I was sad, or my dad’s giant bear hugs whenever I won a basketball game. These kids don’t have that. I believe it’s everyone’s right to know that they are loved by someone, anyone, and why can’t that someone be us? We live in a time where it’s easy to get lost in our own worlds, we are too busy for our own good, and we often don’t make the time for others. This event is a great reminder to all of us that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

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When I sent out my invites I had asked everyone to bring a small donation, an open heart and an empty stomach. Being on a tight budget myself I wanted to create a menu that was delicious, impressive but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I also wanted to have enough left over to be able to donate some money to the charity as well. Below are two great, inexpensive, healthy, fresh, and delicious recipes that will wow your guests. These recipes are enough to serve 6-8 people for under $30, which is pretty darn good if you ask me! Some of the ingredients you might have in your pantry already, so you can be super resourceful:)
For my menu I decided to serve a Shaved Fennel, Caramelized Corn, and Summer Peach Salad and Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage.

peach salad
pasta broccoli raab

Both of these dishes can feed a crowd and hold really well, so if guests come and go you don’t have to worry about being in the kitchen the whole time.

If you can’t throw a party on Saturday, that’s totally okay! People are throwing their own Night of 1000 dinners all month long.

If you have any questions on how to throw your own party and for more information about Worldwide Orphans CLICK HERE. I encourage you to check it out. I promise the reward will be greater than you know!


(serves 6)
  • 2 large bulbs fennel, shaved or sliced thin
  • 2 large ripe peaches, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  1. Heat a medium skillet on high heat. Cut kernels from corn cob. Add 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet and toss in corn kernels. Cook on high heat for about 3-4 minutes allowing the corn to get some color. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl add the shaved fennel, sliced peached, arugula, shaved parmesan, the cooled corn, olive oil, lemon, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest a good pinch of salt and lots of cracked pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Gluten Free Shell Pasta with Broccoli Raab and Spicy Chicken Sausage

(serves 6)
  • 1 pound gluten free pasta shells (I used Tinkyada’s) you can also use regular orchiette pasta or shells
  • 1 1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casing removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch broccoli raab, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt so the water tastes like the ocean. Cook pasta 2 minutes under what the package says for the cook time. Drain, but make sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. If you are using a gluten free brown rice pasta, make sure to rinse the pasta well under cold water to remove all the starch. This will prevent the pasta from getting gummy. While the pasta is cooking:
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, just until the edges start to slightly brown. Remove the garlic and discard. Add sausage into the skillet and using a wooden spoon break up the meat and cook for 8 minutes, or until the meat is brown and crispy.
  3. Add in the broccoli raab, and red chili flakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the 1 cup of pasta water, scraping up all the brown bits off the bottom of pan. Add pasta into the skillet and toss to coat. Add in 1 cup of parmesan, the juice and zest of a lemon and mix until creamy.
  4. To serve, place pasta in a large bowl and top with a few good glugs of olive oil, more cheese, cracked black pepper, and red chili flakes.

Vietnamese Steak Salad

WE ARE HAVING A BABY SHOWER!!!! WELL…a virtual one. Which in my opinion is way better, no baby games,no crying over tiny socks. Just good food and good friends, gathering to share the love they have for their friend and her journey into motherhood. Good friends and good food are two of the things I […]