I think this is the third time in two weeks that I’ve made winter squash something. Just a year ago, I was a skeptic of anything pumpkin-y in flavor (e.g. butternut squash, acorn squash, even sweet potatoes are pushing it for me). I guess I should tell you guys right off the bat, I despise pumpkin pie. It makes me physically gag. I hate it, loathe it. The smell, consistency, everything about it. My weird aversions to pumpkin pie have halted me from trying out other pumpkin-y squashes. On the other hand, I LOVE pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cookies……weird, right? I use sugar pumpkin puree in my pumpkin bread recipe and I love how it enhances the flavor and moisture in the bread. I also use pumpkin puree in cornbread (my mother-in-law’s idea). I guess what I really don’t like is it’s natural mushy form.
But now, I will have you know, my taste buds are evolving. My love affair started when I was introduced to Mr. butternut squash. I found recipe after recipe of new and exploratory ways to use him. He’s the best in savory dishes, like my all-time favorite, butternut squash risotto. It’s the epitome of comfort food. I have yet to make him in a soup (next adventure for me). Now that I’ve gotten used to the idea, that not all squash are created equal, I delved into different winter squashes, like Miss Acorn squash. Now I’m bursting at the seams with new recipe ideas and unique ways to cook it, bake it, roast it, you name it. I’ll be sure to share my winter squash journey with you all.
Now, back to the recipe. What’s so extraordinary about this dish is it plays as a meal and serving bowl, all in one. Once cut in halves, acorn squash make the perfect shell for filling. Cinnamon and nutmeg lend this stuffed squash a warm flavor that makes it perfect for Fall’s notorious cooler days and nights. The original recipe calls for Bulgar wheat. I didn’t have any on hand, and had no desire to leave the house just for Bulgar, so I elected to use quinoa and orzo for the filling. It worked superbly!
To make this vegetarian, I would substitute soy ground meat, or just double up on the orzo/quinoa mixture. Also replace the chicken broth with vegetable stock, or water.
This recipe was mostly adapted from the October 2009 edition Martha Stewart Living magazine with a few changes on some ingredients.
- Two medium acorn squashes, cut in halves and seeded
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups of lean ground turkey
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 cups chicken broth (The original recipe calls for water, but you can also use vegetable broth for more flavor)
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, place squash cut side down. Bake for 35 minutes. While squash is baking, prepare the filling. In a large cooking pot over a medium-high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add ground turkey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and one teaspoon of salt. Cook until brown (about 5 to 7 minutes), drain meat, leaving juices still in the pan, and place turkey in a bowl. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent. Next add minced garlic. Cook for another minute. Next, add quinoa and orzo, and stir until combined. Pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15-18 minutes. Fluff quinoa and orzo, add cooked meat, raisins, cilantro, pine nuts, and last teaspoon of salt. After baking the acorn squash, scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon, so that you have 1/4 inch thick shell. Add scooped flesh to the rest of the filling mixture, and mix until combined. Spoon filling into cavities of each baked squash, creating a nice little mound on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Serves four.