Tender and delicious, baked acorn squash makes an edible bowl for a savory filling that abounds with healthy autumn flavors. Acorn squash is rich in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and certain cancers. This savory recipe is festive enough for a holiday meal yet easy enough for satisfying family dinner. For a vegetarian version, replace turkey with lentils, chickpeas or quinoa. For a flavor variation, replace rosemary with ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, or add some heat by sprinkling some red chili pepper flakes in the ground turkey stuffing.
For the squash:
3 small acorn squash (about 1 ½ pounds apiece)
2 tablespoon avocado oil, divided
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
For the stuffing:
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey, extra lean
3 cups of spinach or kale, coarsely chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
Optional garnish: grated parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, toasted pepitas or minced herbs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Halve squash and remove seeds. Place squash halves on a large baking sheet, cut side up. Brush with one tablespoon of avocado oil and season with black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare stuffing by putting a large skillet over low-medium heat. Add remaining avocado oil and tilt skillet to coat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add turkey and cook another 7 minutes, stirring and breaking into small pieces. Add all remaining ingredients, except optional garnishes, and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Remove stuffing from heat and divide evenly to fill the baked squash halves. Return stuffed squash to oven and bake an additional 25 minutes. Transfer squash to plates or a serving platter. Top with parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, toasted pepitas, or minced herbs, if using — and enjoy! Serves six. Adapted from ifoodreal.com and eatingeuropean.com.