Do you ever get bored with everything you usually eat?
Me too. Even though I experiment a lot. My default for dinner, especially when I’ve had a busy day, is the old fashioned plate containing meat-starch-vegetable (or 2 vegetables). Because that’s how my Mom cooked and it feels comfortable.
But on a weekend, or when I have more time, I can move away from that. Like with this one-dish dinner: Stuffed Acorn Squash. It has everything: meat, starch and vegetable all-in-one.
But here are the bonus points: first, it has just a little meat, which is a good thing if you’re trying to reduce the meat protein from your meals.
Second, it has just a little carb (a small amount of breadcrumbs).
Third, it has lots of vegetables, presented in a way that people who balk at vegetables will eat.
Fourth, you can prepare it ahead and pop it into the oven to finish cooking.
And finally, it looks beautiful, so it makes a terrific dish for company. If not for dinner, then as a first course or for brunch.
My recipe says to cut squash in half, but I prepared this batch using whole squash (I cut the cap off at about 1/3 of the way down), so take your choice (if you use whole squash, buy 4 smaller ones rather than 2 large).
I also used carnival squash because it’s so pretty, but acorn squash work just as well and usually cost less.
You can bake this stuffing in a ramekin if you prefer (and in that case you can peel and cut up the raw squash and use it in place of the carrots).
Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped yellow squash or zucchini
1 cup ground turkey
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup chopped almonds or toasted pignoli nuts
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds (you can rinse them off and roast them separately to use as a snack). Wrap the halves in aluminum foil and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until tender. Set aside. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. While the squash is roasting, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, to soften them slightly. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the zucchini, turkey, spinach, raisins, nuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and cayenne pepper and toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Mix in the eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the baked squash hollows. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2-4 servings