Have you ever seen this at the Grocery Store?
It is an Acorn Squash, named after its shape. When I see them on the produce shelves, I know fall has truly arrived!
Our family had the best night when we ate this hearty and healthy dish, in part because my husband travels, so the nights he is home already feel special. Fall is his busy season, so we go from 2 nights at home during the week to 1 if we are lucky. So when he is home, I like to make one if his favorite meals and try to be health conscious too since he is eating at restaurants for work those other nights. Between the apples and pumpkins everywhere, and this cozy seasonal meal, it felt like a quintessential fall night.
Stuffed Acorn Squash is one of our family’s favorite fall meals, and it got it’s start from how my mom used to prepare acorn squash as a side dish. I remember running to the dinner table and being so excited to see it on my plate.
Preheat your oven to 425 with racks positioned for 2 baking sheets. Then slice squash in half.
Their flesh is a lot like Butternut Squash, but more mellow. You scoop out the seeds:
Then place them cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
Roast them for about 25 minutes, checking with a fork to see if they are tender (you can poke the fork into the skin side, it gets soft.)
When they are done, they are on their own a fantastic side dish. Just add a little butter and brown sugar and mash them up (this is how my mom used to serve them. Feel free to add cinnamon or nutmeg if you like).
But one night a few years ago, I thought, why not stuff them? I came up with the yummiest mixture of ground beef or turkey, rice, cranberries, and toasted pine nuts. It adds a ton of flavor if you start with this rice, but you can use any wild rice box or even rice pilaf:
For the filling, saute a chopped onion & ground beef, and mix with cooked rice, cranberries and toasted pine nuts.
Then stuff each of the acorn squash for an awesome fall meal (my kids loved it, thanks to the brown sugar, but so does my husband).
I would never have picked up an acorn squash if my mom hadn’t made them all the time. And this preparation can really be used on any squash. (I just saw Laura Calder on French Home Cooking make mashed butternut squash as a side dish by slicing it and roasting it skin side up, then scooping it out into a bowl with butter, salt and pepper).
Do you have any family recipes with these great seasonal veggies? What dish do you make that feels like fall has arrived?
Stuffed Acorn Squash Serves 6
3 Acorn Squash
1 box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice
1 small onion (or half of a large), chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 c. dried sliced cranberries
3-4 T. pine nuts
butter & brown sugar to taste
Cook rice according to package directions (Uncle Ben’s takes 20-25 min).
Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half. Place cut side down on 2 cookie sheets, sprayed with cooking spray. Roast for 25 min or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat oil in pan. Saute onion for 5 min, until tender. Add grown beef, cook until browned.
Toast pine nuts on cookie sheet, at 350 for about 7 minutes (watch closely so they don’t burn) OR toast them in a pan on the stove top at medium heat for 3 min. or until toasted.
When squash is done, remove from oven and flip over, taking care as will be hot and steamy. Add small pat of butter and sprinkle of brown sugar, if desired. Mash with fork.
When rice is cooked, add rice, cranberries, and pine nuts. Stir to combine.
Stuff each acorn half with rice mixture. Serve warm.