Veggies as a “Vehicle”
I love stuffing vegetables with yummy things to eat 🙂 For a long time, my go-to for this type of meal was always stuffed bell peppers. Which are totally yummy, don’t get me wrong. But, I’ve been branching out and trying different “veggie vehicles” if you will. One of my favorite go-to’s has become stuffed acorn squash, taco-style.
I actually got the original inspiration for this recipe a while back from a local magazine, where someone published a stuffed acorn squash recipe that included black beans. The rest of the recipe I don’t actually remember, only that it was meatless, had black beans, and some spices. It sounded yummy though, and I had never tried filling an acorn squash. So I decided to make a few changes to fit our preferred meal content (i.e. add a little meat and some spice), and give it a whirl.
These turned out to be very similar to tacos stuffed into an acorn squash instead of tortillas. If you want my recipe for making your own taco seasoning (used in this recipe), check out this post.
Other Creative Alterations
You could totally use this as a base recipe, and modify the filling, spices, etc, to match whatever you are in the mood for. Maybe you’d like quinoa instead of (or along with) the black beans? Or perhaps more of an Italian flair with some sausage (turkey or chicken to keep it more lean) basil, oregano, crushed red peppers, and mozzarella cheese? I wonder what an Indian twist could look like? Maybe curried lentils, some extra veggies like carrots and eggplant, and a yogurt sauce??
You see, the fun thing about cooking is that once you’ve settled on a flavor profile you can do quite a lot to modify an existing recipe and turn it into something new and tasty!
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
This recipe as a whole is pretty simple. Pre-bake the acorn squash, cook the filling, stuff the squash, top with cheese, bake/broil til brown and bubbly. Get all the details below!
- Saute pan
- Baking dish or cookie sheet
- 2 acorn squash
- 1½ pounds ground turkey (or other ground meat)
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 15 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (with liquid)
- ½ yellow onion (diced)
- 1 jalapeno (diced, with seeds if you like the spice!)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
Pre-bake the acorn squash
- Cut each acorn squash in half length-wise (through the stem).
- Scoop out the seeds and toss.
- Drizzle the squash flesh with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
- Place cut side down in a baking dish.
- Bake @400°F for 30-45 min. You will know the squash is done when you can poke a knife into the skin and it goes in easily.
- Once you pull the squash out of the oven, cover to keep warm.
- While the squash is baking...
Make the filling
- Heat a little olive oil in a skillet.
- Add the onion and saute until transparent.
- Add the garlic and cook ~30 seconds, stirring.
- Add the diced jalapeno and stir.
- Add the ground meat, and stir often until cooked through.
- Once the meat is browned, remove any excess fat that has cooked off. (See tip in notes.)
- Add the diced tomatoes (with liquid), taco seasoning, and oregano. Stir to combine well and let simmer for a couple minutes.
- Add the black beans to the meat mixture.
- Let the filling simmer for a few more minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Put it together and melt cheese on top
- Turn the squash so their inside cavity is facing up.
- Liberally mound each half with the meat filling.
- Top with ¼ cup cheese each.
- Return the squash to the oven and broil for ~10 min until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Let sit for a few minutes, then serve. A simple green salad makes a nice accompaniment, and rounds out the meal.