Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash [RECIPE]

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a beautiful kitchen hack for preparing winter squash. For those of you who missed my post on this ground-breaking topic, the secret is … wait for it! … putting the whole thing in the oven uncut, unpeeled, un-punctured, and roasting it on 375-400 for 30 to 45 minutes. It’s super simple, super delicious, and it works for all winter squash, including pumpkin. I recently did it with butternut squash for a party (roasted 4 of them on the same cookie sheet for about 45 minutes total) and spaghetti squash for lunch with a friend (roasted 1 big one for about 30 minutes), and they all turned out great.

When I shared this kitchen hack, I also shared a delicious ground lamb and purple cabbage recipe to go along with it — to stuff in the halved, roasted squash. Today I’m sharing another awesome “squash stuffing.” This one is all about Mexican spices, and I love it even more than my first stuffed acorn squash recipe. 

stuffed acorn squash recipe

Seasoning and Timing

When seasoning with delicate herbs and spices, I’ve found that timing is everything. Adding cilantro too soon can mean wasting it because the flavor will be cooked out before you serve the dish, but there IS a flavor difference between cooked and raw cilantro. This recipe uses both, because I love both, and I feel like they both need to be there to get the right balance of flavor. I never ever use dry cilantro (or parsley or basil) because it’s just a waste — they basically taste like nothing once they’re dried. If you can’t find them fresh, start searching for some other way to flavor your food.

Same goes for lime juice: timing is everything. Squeezing a lime into a marinade is a great way to flavor a piece of meat or veggies, but squeezing it into a hot pan too soon when there hasn’t been any time for it to sink into the other ingredients is a waste. If you want lime or the acidic effect of lime, marinate or add close to the end. Otherwise it’s a waste. 

A Word on Preparing Beans

If you’ve read my post on maximizing phytonutrients, you may have checked out the book I reference by Jo Robinson, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (affiliate link). If not, I’ll share another food hack with you from that book. Canned beans have more antioxidant value than dried ones. Somehow the heating process increases the nutrient value, bringing more phytonutrients to your plate. Fascinating, right?

The only problem is that canned beans aren’t soaked before they’re cooked, leaving all the phytic acid and other antinutrients present. These components make it difficult for us to digest beans and properly utilize all the protein they offer us. They can also make calcium difficult to absorb, which can be a problem for those with brittle bones or osteoporosis. Soaking beans before cooking with water and a touch of acid (like raw vinegar, lemon juice, or kombucha) will diminish the phytate content and make beans a much healthier food to consume.

But canned beans are already cooked. Guess what? You can still soak them! Compared to soaking and then cooking dried beans, this won’t seem like a chore at all, trust me.

Simply rinse your beans in the morning and place them in bowl filled with lukewarm water. Drop about 2 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar into the water, and swish it around. Cover the bowl with a plate or towel on the counter, and head off to work. (Don’t refrigerate.) When you come home 6 to 8 hours later, drain the liquid and rinse the beans one more time before adding them to your recipe. 


    Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash
    Serves 4
    Servings for this recipe are tricky. The stuffing will feed 3 to 4, but how many the squash will feed will depend on the squash. I always like to find the smaller squash and make more so that 1/2 a squash is about 1 serving. If you end up with a huge squash and only two people eating, consider scooping out half of each one for lunch the next day with the remaining stuffing.
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    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min">
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    1. 2 small acorn squash
    2. 16 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    3. 2 cups cooked black beans*
    4. 1/4 small red onion, diced
    5. 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
    6. 1/4 jalapeno (you decide the heat -- I don't use the seeds)
    7. 2 cloves garlic, minced (let sit at least 10 minutes before adding to fire)
    8. 2 tbs avocado oil
    9. 20 sprigs of fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
    10. 1 tsp dried savory
    11. 1 tsp dried marjoram
    12. 1 tsp cumin powder
    13. 1/4-1/2 tsp REAL salt (to taste)
    1. Heat the oven to 400 (no need to preheat)
    2. Place two small acorn squash on a cookie sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes while preparing everything else
    3. In a warm skillet, add 2 tbs avocado oil, onions, and peppers
    4. Allow onions to "sweat," stirring on low heat for about 3 minutes before adding in half the chopped cilantro leaves
    5. Stir in cooked, strained black beans
    6. Stir in minced garlic and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes before adding shrimp
    7. Clear some space on the skillet so that the shrimp hit it directly to cook
    8. Give each side about 30 seconds and flip, then incorporate into the beans
    9. Stir in salt
    10. Once the shrimp are completely cooked through (but not overcooked), add the other half of the cilantro leaves and the juice of 1 lime and turn off the heat
    11. Slice the roasted acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds
    12. Stuff the halved squash with the Mexican shrimp stuffing and consider the optional toppings below
    1. OPTIONAL: top with sour cream or greek yogurt, cilantro pesto, guacamole, sunflower seeds, or some combination of these
    2. * see note about preparing beans
    Cultivated Wellbeing

FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Lamb-stuffed Whole Roasted Acorn Squash [Recipe] [Kitchen Hack]

As you might know from previous posts, I love a good winter squash recipe. My best friend in high school had a gourmet chef for a mother, and she would make butternut squash soup with sage and heavy cream — I’d sneak seconds out of the fridge when I’d go over there for dinner. And my first memory of biting into a winter squash was life changing — roasted acorn squash topped with a sesame soy glaze at a locally sourced restaurant in Austin, TX sometime in the early 2000’s. I was hooked.

While I loved these starchy veggies, I found them unwieldy and downright frightening to prepare myself. I’ll admit to buying the pre-cut, pre-peeled butternut squash at Whole Foods in the produce section and paying an arm and a leg to have someone else risk their fingertips to cut that thing apart for me. They roll all over the place!lamb-stuffed whole roasted acorn squash recipe

Life-Changing Kitchen Hack: Roasting a Whole Squash

A few weeks back, I learned an amazing trick to save time AND my fingers, and guarantee excellence each and every time I make winter squash. And that trick is to do NOTHING to it before sticking it in the oven. Nothing. Turn on the oven, stick it in whole, let it roast from the inside; and then slice it open, scoop the seeds, and do as you please. It’s amazing! And today’s recipe will feature an acorn squash roasted like this. It’s literally the easiest way to cook winter squash while avoiding the emergency room! 

Time-Saving Tip

Roasting this way is also a great way to multi-task in the kitchen — or even prepare extra for the rest of the week. Depending on how many squashes you’re cooking (yes, that’s a plural form of squash, I just looked it up), the time in the oven will shift slightly, but this is a set-it-and-forget-it way of preparing a base for your dinner. Tossing a squash in the oven gives you time to focus on the rest of your meal. And if you’re preparing for the whole week, why not mix it up? Throw a spaghetti squash in there too and get the base for this recipe started for later in the week.

For this dish, I started some ground lamb and cabbage going on a skillet while my squash did it’s thing in the oven. If you’re shooting for a vegetarian dinner, you could work up some quinoa and veggies, or make it super easy by pulling out a BPA-free can of veggie chili (affiliate link) for the easiest healthy dinner on earth. Or you could stick with my recipe below. lamb-stuffed whole roasted acorn squash recipe">
Lamb-Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash
Serves 4
Makes 4 very generous servings -- unless you're really hungry, prepare for some leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
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  1. 2 whole acorn squash (small to medium in size)
  2. 1.5 lbs ground lamb
  3. 1/2 a red cabbage, chopped
  4. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  5. 1 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or pressed
  6. 4 tbs fresh rosemary
  7. 1 tbs fresh sage
  8. 2 tsp REAL salt + more (CWB Favorite Pick)
  9. Black pepper
  1. Roast 2 whole acorn squash on 400 for 40 minutes, let sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing to avoid a steam burn
  2. While the squash is in the oven, start browning ground lamb on a hot skillet
  3. When the meat's about halfway cooked, sprinkle in 2 tsp salt and add chopped red cabbage and bell pepper
  4. When the meat's about 3/4 of the way browned with 1/4 still red and uncooked, stir in garlic, sage and 1/2 the rosemary.
  5. There should be lots of juices sizzling and bubbling at this point, and the cabbage should be pretty close to done.
  6. Once it's all cooked, add 2 more tbs fresh rosemary and cook for another 5-7 minutes
  7. Slice the top off the acorn squash and cut them in half
  8. Scoop out the innards and seeds, saving the seeds for toasting later
  9. Sprinkle all 4 halves with salt and black pepper
  10. Plate the squash and fill each center with the ground lamb cabbage mixture
Optional but Awesome Toppings
  1. cashew cream
  2. OR
  3. Greek yogurt
  4. OR
  5. sour cream
  6. AND
  7. fresh sprouts
  8. AND
  9. raw sunflower seeds
Cultivated Wellbeing


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

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