A few weeks ago we wrote about how much we love butternut squash, but it’s time to share the love with another one of our favorite winter squashes: acorn squash! Acorn squash is loaded with vitamins and minerals and has many of the same nutritional benefits as butternut squash. One cup of cooked squash is an excellent source of vitamins A and C (especially important for the immune system in the cold winter). The sweet yellow flesh is a also a good source of heart healthy vitamin E, the B vitamins including thiamin, niacin, B6, and folate and the power minerals magnesium, potassium, and manganese. No need to take a multivitamin if you are eating from the squash family often.
Acorn squash is easily identified by its dark green color, sometimes spotted with orange. It is typically on the small side (1-3 pounds), and is shaped like a larger version of its namesake, the acorn. As far as planting and harvesting, acorn squash is very easy to grow. The seeds are planted after the last winter frost, when the soil has started to warm up, and then the squash can be harvested about 3-4 months later, when the skin is tough. The fruit needs to be dried out in the sun, and then can be stored and enjoyed through the winter.
One of the things that separate acorn squash from other squashes is that it’s perfect for being stuffed. The shape and size make it quite conducive to being hollowed out, roasted, and stuffed with grains, meats, cheese, or other veggies. When roasted, the sweet yellow flesh can also be scooped out and mashed, or mixed with other ingredients, as it is in our very own Turkey and Acorn Squash Stuffing. This recipe is perfectly timed for your Thanksgiving prep! If you were looking for a unique, nutritious side dish, look no further. This stuffing will definitely get double thumbs up from everyone at your Thanksgiving table… Double the recipe and you’ll be grateful for the leftovers, too!
How do you make your stuffing? Is it a family recipe? Please share your comments.
Turkey and Acorn Squash Stuffing
From Appetite for Life book, by Stacey Antine, MS. RD
Acorn squash is an all-time autumn favorite, but after you eat this dish, you won’t want to wait till Thanksgiving. This veggie is packed with nutrients, but it also has a naturally sweet flavor that works perfectly in this recipe. Use it as a traditional turkey stuffing, or serve it as a side dish. Either way the leftovers are amazingly good!
Kids can measure ingredients before cooking.
2 small acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved and seeded
2 cups water
¾ cup bulgur wheat (such a Bob’s Red Mill)
½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ pound ground turkey (99% lean)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet. Place squash, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Roast squash until fork-tender, about 35 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a small saucepan, heat water to boiling over high heat. Add bulgur and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
- While bulgur is cooking, in a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ground turkey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook turkey until browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, transfer turkey mixture to a bowl, leaving any liquid in the skillet.
- To the liquid in the skillet, add celery and onion and cook over medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Remove skillet from heat; stir in turkey mixture.
- With a spoon, scoop out the squash from shells. Add squash to turkey mixture. Then, add bulgur, raisins, parsley, and pumpkin seeds, if using. Toss to mix.
- If serving stuffing as side dish, heat over medium heat until hot. Or, if you like, set aside to use as stuffing for turkey.
Makes 6 servings (1 cup per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 200 calories; 2.5g fat (0g sat fat, 1g mono, 0.5g poly, 0g trans fat); 15mg cholesterol; 36g carbohydrate (6g fiber, 9g sugar); 13g protein; 100mg sodium; 15% Daily Value (dv) vitamin A; 35% DV vitamin C; 8% DV calcium; 15% DV iron