Acorn Squash: A new way to prepare this winter side dish

  • 4 Minutes Read

Acorn squash is bursting with nutrition. Here is a family favorite recipe I adapted from Epicurious: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Ground Turkey, Kale and Quinoa. Enjoy this gluten free dish with some wild salmon for a healthy and delicious meal.

Acorn Squash: A new way to prepare this winter side dish

Looking for a healthy side dish to enjoy during those cold winter nights? Why not try acorn squash, which is nutritious and provides that satisfying texture of traditional comfort food. The most common types of winter squash found in grocery stores are: butternut squash, acorn squash and sugar pumpkins. Since squash contains seeds it is considered a fruit instead of a vegetable. Flavors are generally mild to sweet which means squash won't overpower the other ingredients and flavors it is paired with. As far as starches go, one cup of acorn squash delivers 115 calories, 0g fat, 30g cho (9 g of fiber) and 2 g protein. Compare with one cup of pasta which contains 182 calories, 1.1g fat, 35.5g cho and 6.7g protein. Squash is naturally low in fat, moderate in carbohydrate and high in dietary fiber. It contains several nutrients worth mentioning. It is rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C and beta carotene. It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium and manganese.

This past summer my family and I grew acorn squash in our garden. To our surprise we ended up with a nice sized crop. Thus we began experimenting with different ways to prepare this fruit. A family favorite is a modified version of Epicurious' Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage. I modified it to meet my preferences - my version is gluten free but still very filling. I am pleased to say that this recipe reheats well in the microwave or oven. I am a big proponent of "cooking once and eating twice." I would suggest pairing this recipe with some baked salmon for supper and serving the leftovers the next day for lunch. If for some reason you have leftover filling after you make this recipe, it is tasty alongside a fried egg or two for breakfast. Yum!

JK Acorn Squash with Ground Turkey and Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings 1 serving = 1/2 of an acorn squash stuffed with ~ 1/2 cup of filling Calories: 238 kcals, 10g fat, 27g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 7g dietary fiber per serving.


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Rinse and clean 2 medium sized acorn squash with water. In general, raw squash is difficult to cut. Make sure you have a sharp knife available when cutting the squash in 1/2. I use an 8 inch chef's knife to cut the squash vertically. Make sure to stabilize the squash with one hand and cut with the other. To scoop the insides: I used a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and extra pulp from the squash. SAVE THIS if you want to roast the seeds!
-After cutting the squash, place it flesh side down on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with canola cooking spray.
-Bake squash until tender, about 30 minutes. You will know the squash is cooked completely when a fork is able to completely pierce the flesh.
-Using a sturdy spatula, remove hot squash from cookie sheet and flip over, placing it on a cutting board to cool.

While squash is cooking:
-Prepare quinoa, following package instructions. It will take quinoa about 20 minutes to cook. I tend to measure out 1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup of dry quinoa + 1/2 tsp olive oil. This will produce a bit extra quinoa. I will save any leftover quinoa and add to a green salad the next day for some extra texture.

While squash and quinoa are cooking, cook other ingredients to be stuffed inside the squash:
-Saute leeks in 2 tsp of olive oil. This will take about 6 minutes until the diced leeks are tender. Be careful not to burn the leeks.
-Add Italian flavored ground turkey to the skillet, crumble and cook thoroughly. This will take about 10 minutes.
-Stir frequently, to ensure turkey is cooked throughout.
-Add crushed garlic, kale, fresh ground black pepper to taste and chicken broth, stir well and cover to cook. It should take about 5-7 minutes to wilt the kale.
-Finally, mix in 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa to kale/turkey sauté.
-Divide this filling among the 4 squash halves. Each squash will take about 1/2 cup of filling.
-Sprinkle even mixture of chopped walnuts and parmesan cheese on top of each stuffed squash.
-Return squash to the oven to melt the parmesan cheese and rewarm the squash. This will take about 10 minutes on 375 degrees.

Craving crunch, try roasting the seeds:

When I prepared the above recipe I was able to remove a little over 1 oz of seeds from both squash. Below are some basic instructions for preparing the seeds. Clean and rinse the squash seeds in a colander under running water, working to remove as much pulp as possible. Dry the seeds on a cotton towel to remove moisture. Spread the seeds onto a greased cookie sheet (I used canola spray on the cookie sheet or you could try 1 tsp olive oil to coat the seeds). Sprinkle the seeds lightly with salt and bake at 325 degrees for 10 min. Stir seeds on tray, then return to oven for final cooking, about another 5 minutes. Watch them closely so they don't burn. The seeds, contain calories too so be sure to log those if you include them: 1/2 oz (about 3.5 tbsp or 14 g) of seeds without added oil contains 63 calories, 3g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 3g protein. Enjoy!

How to Copy This Recipe from MyNetDiary

I have already entered this recipe into MyNetDiary. You can copy this recipe from nickname"Dietician." Login to MyNetDiary via web program, go to Community, and then search "Dietician" with "People" chosen in the drop down box. When you find "Dietician," click on the blue name link. Scroll down Dietician Personal Page and find Custom Catalog. Find "JK Acorn Squash, with ground turkey and quinoa" and tap "copy" link on the right side of the screen. Once you do that, you can use that recipe in your own log without having to enter it yourself. You can also modify it as you wish - it will only change for your account. It is easy to search for that recipe if you use "from dietician" in your name search.

Premium membership benefit: you can copy and customize recipes or foods. Bring up recipe in web program (Food tab), tap "Food Details" (top middle bar), and then choose "copy & customize" option. You can then modify any field to fully customize the recipe (ingredients, yield, name, etc.).

Foods & Recipes->Chicken & Turkey Foods & Recipes->Fruit & Vegetables
Dec 20, 2016
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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