Growing up, I mainly experienced acorn squash as dessert for dinner. My mom would cut the squash in half, take out the seeds, fill it with a large amount of honey plus butter and seasonings and roast it. It was a sweet treat that my sugar addicted younger self was always eager to eat.
Now, I'm an adult and I need to be thinking about my nutritional needs and not triggering my sugar addiction. With that in mind, I decided to make stuffed acorn squash at the lake home we rented for a week. It's easy to make at home and it's easy to make on vacation. It doesn't call for any speciality ingredients or a lot of equipment, and it all comes together in an hour or a bit more. As the weather is turning cold, stuffed acorn squash is nourishing and filling, not to mention delicious. Try it and see for yourself!
Stuffed Acorn Squash*
2 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 pound of ground meat such as turkey or pork
Preheat the oven to 400. Rub the squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 40 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet or in a roasting pan that will fit the squash halves.
While the squash are roasting, prepare the filling. Place a large sauté pan or skillet on a stovetop burner and heat to medium or medium-low. Add 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil (or a neutral oil like grapeseed). Once the oil starts to shimmer, add your onions. Cook, until the onions are translucent, about five minutes or less, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery. Stir frequently to combine and for even cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook for approximately 10 minutes. Add the meat and break it up with a wooden spoon or a fork. Stir to combine the vegetables and the meat. Sauté until the meat is cooked through. If the mixture is looking dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water or chicken broth. If the vegetables are getting too dark, turn the heat down. Once the mixture is cooked through, turn the heat to its lowest setting and stir occasionally until the squash are done roasting.
When the squash have finished roasting, take them out of the oven. Spoon as much filling as you can into each squash half. You will have some extra filling that you can pass around at the table. Once the squash are filled, return them to the oven for 10 minutes so the filling heats through. Serve one squash half per person.
*I kept this very basic as I wasn't traveling with much more than my salt and pepper grinder. However, there are a lot of ingredients that would bump up the flavor of the stuffed squash, including:
- Dried sage - add one teaspoon to the filling after you have added all the vegetables but before adding the meat.
- Dried or fresh thyme leaves - add one teaspoon to the filling after you have added all the vegetables but before adding the meat.