I love stuffed vegetables and I’ve been trying to think exactly why that is. I think, mostly, it’s because they’re so fun. You can roast a vegetable, steam a vegetable, grill a vegetable, but then it’s just a basic side dish… But you stuff a vegetable and then it’s something special, the star of the show! And in the stuffed vegetable arena, Acorn Squash is one of the true champions. Nutty and sweet, it’s perfect paired with savory flavors, like here, where it’s stuffed with turkey and some autumnal goodies like cranberry and sage. Definitely a show stopper.
Acorn squash isn’t as starchy as some other varieties and it has a thin enough skin that it doesn’t need to be peeled — like delicata, you can eat the skin if you wish. And the flavor is delicious — it’s a little nutty and sweet, with beautiful bright orange flesh.
For stuffing acorn squash, you basically want to roast the squash while you’re working on the filling so that the flesh of the squash has plenty of time to get nice and tender. Just slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place the halves on a baking sheet in the oven after drizzling it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (You can also slice a bit from the back of each squash half to create a flat surface so the squash doesn’t rock back and forth.)
While it’s roasting, you work on the filling, which is just a matter of sauteing some onion, garlic, and ground turkey with chopped apples, dried cranberries, sage, and pecans. (In other words, so many great fall flavors.)
The filling then goes in the squash, gets topped with a little parm and breadcrumbs and heads back in the oven just long enough to get toasty. When you dig in, you’ll get that lovely meaty, turkey filling but also some of the sweet squash for a tasty balance of sweet and savory flavors.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
15m prep time
45m cook time
- 2 small acorn squash, cut in half
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- First, prepare the squash:
- Cut squash in half from stem to tip. Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh from center and discard. Slice or shave a small section from the back of the squash half so it will sit flat.
- Place squash flesh-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 30 minutes.
- While squash bakes, prepare the filling:
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add in turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook until cooked through.
- Add apples, sage, and thyme and cook until apples are starting to soften, about 3 minutes more, then stir in cranberries and pecans. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Spoon filling into squash halves, then top with parmesan and breadcrumbs.
- Return to oven and bake until topping is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!