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As the days grow shorter and colder, we move away from the summer bounty in our house and start looking towards the winter squashes and cool-season vegetables like carrots, beets and turnips.
This Stuffed Autumn Acorn Squash recipe is very satisfying on a crisp fall or winter night. It’s one of our favorite cold-weather meals at my home, because it is packed with nutrients and savory flavors. Acorn squash(Cucurbita pepo) is low in calories, but high in vitamin A, vitamin C, some complex B vitamins, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium. Winter squashes also have beta carotenes, alpha-carotenes and other carotenoids, which strengthen our immune systems at a time of year when our bodies really need it.
If you’re lucky enough to have acorn squash growing in your summer garden, like my friend Judi Brawer, by all means use garden-fresh squash in this recipe. Acorn squash – like other winter squashes – thrives in a sunny garden spot with rich, well-drained soil. Uncut acorn squash will store about a month or two at room temperature. Learn more about growing winter squashes.
Removing dead leaves and debris keeps the squash plant focused on growing. The Fiskars UltraBlade® PowerGear® Bypass Pruner is handy for maneuvering these large leafy plants, because the blades stay sharper with the UltraBlade coating and the non-circular gearing technology makes the pruners three times easier to cut with than single-pivot tools.
This family recipe lends itself well to variations and experimentation. Try it with other types of winter squash too. If you’re a vegetarian, make this nutritious dish with meatless products, or cooked brown rice, amaranth or barley. If you select meat, consider grass-fed, pasture-raised beef from a local grower. Be creative, and adjust the ingredients to suit your dietary preferences. In this recipe, I used onions and sage from my garden, and grass-fed beef and acorn squash from local growers.
1 acorn squash
1 small onion
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 carrot (I used a yellow one)
½ pound of ground beef or turkey (or meatless substitute)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1/8 cup cheddar cheese
1-2 ounces of feta cheese, based on your taste
1 tablespoon of fresh sage (1/2 tablespoon of dried )
1 teaspoon dried cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) With a sharp knife, carefully cut acorn squash in half. Remove seeds, and rub inside and out with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place a half clove of garlic under each piece on a baking tray covered with aluminum foil. Cook for 45 minutes, or until fork goes easily through skin. Let cool.
3) While squash is baking, sauté onion in oil until almost translucent. Add ground beef, turkey or meatless substitute. Once meat is nearly browned, add carrots and seasonings. Cook a bit longer until carrots soften a bit, but don’t overcook. Add chopped walnuts and feta cheese. Stir well. Remove from heat. Taste stuffing, and make adjustments with seasonings, as desired.
4) Carefully remove much of the baked squash stuffing, but save the shell. Mix squash stuffing with other ingredients, and then fill squashes. Top with cheddar cheese.
5) Bake stuffed squash halves about 20 minutes until hot. Serve immediately. Enjoy!