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Harvest Festival Fare: Stuffed Acorn Squash

By Marie Oser, Managing Editor
October 3, 2012
File under: Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan

Sukkot is a harvest festival variously celebrated in late September or early October commemorating the mandated Biblical pilgrimage to the Temple of Jerusalem.

During the week long festival a temporary hut is built in backyards, porches and outside synagogues called a sukkah. This booth like structure has 3 walls topped with branches and is decorated with autumnal, harvest themes.

Sukkot is a joyous holiday and it is common for Jews to eat, sleep and otherwise spend time in the sukkah.

Dishes with plenty of vegetables are usually on the menu and often include stuffed vegetables. Stuffed foods are like small cornucopia and present a tasty representation of a bountiful harvest.

There are many vegetables whose very shape invites a tasty filling. Baby Portobello mushrooms and winter squash are prime candidates for stuffing.  Tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, bell peppers or zucchini are perfect for encasing savory fillings, too

Winter squash is hearty, richly flavorful and very nutritious and an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin A and potassium. Winter squash is also a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and manganese and a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Studded Stuffing is an easy and elegant dish. Acorn squash, with its sweet golden flesh and ribbed shell makes an attractive scalloped bowl for the tasty cranberry studded stuffing.

This is a dish that can be prepared in advance and heated before serving. Simply bake the squash until tender, while making the stuffing.  Refrigerate the squash and stuffing separately and assemble and return to the oven for the final bake.

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Studded Stuffing
4 Servings

2 medium acorn squash
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 (8 ounce pkg) ground beef alternative
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2  cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Mirin
Paprika for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°
Cut squash in half crosswise. Scoop out seeds and place the squash cut-side down in 9”by 13” baking pan in one inch of water.  Bake for one hour. Discard water and place squash in pan, cut side up and set aside.

In a 10-inch frying pan, heat oil and crushed pepper over medium high heat. Add garlic, scallions and carrots. Sauté for 3 minutes, add ground beef alternative and cook 5 minutes while stirring frequently.

Drizzle diced apple with lime juice and add to the pan with cranberries and Mirin.  Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Spray the flesh of each squash with olive oil cooking spray and divide the filing among the four squash halves. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover squash with foil and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.
Serve with whole berry cranberry sauce or applesauce.

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Nutrition Analysis per serving: One stuffed squash
Calories 302, Protein 15g, Carbohydrate 57g, Fiber 10g, Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Calcium 102mg, Sodium 32 mg.

Notes on Ingredients

Ground Beef Alternative: Meatless alternatives with the same flavor, texture and protein values and traditional ground beef. These foods contain no cholesterol, saturated fat or animal products. Widely available in supermarkets and health food stores from Boca, Morningstar Farms, Light Life, Yves and others

Mirin:  Mirin is rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content: (14 percent; sake – 20 percent) and adds a light, slightly sweet flavor. Widely available on the ethnic aisle in supermarkets and health food stores

Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV, Follow Marie on Twitter

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