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!
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!
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.
- 2 whole acorn squash (small to medium in size)
- 1.5 lbs ground lamb
- 1/2 a red cabbage, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or pressed
- 4 tbs fresh rosemary
- 1 tbs fresh sage
- 2 tsp REAL salt + more (CWB Favorite Pick)
- Black pepper
- Roast 2 whole acorn squash on 400 for 40 minutes, let sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing to avoid a steam burn
- While the squash is in the oven, start browning ground lamb on a hot skillet
- When the meat's about halfway cooked, sprinkle in 2 tsp salt and add chopped red cabbage and bell pepper
- 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.
- There should be lots of juices sizzling and bubbling at this point, and the cabbage should be pretty close to done.
- Once it's all cooked, add 2 more tbs fresh rosemary and cook for another 5-7 minutes
- Slice the top off the acorn squash and cut them in half
- Scoop out the innards and seeds, saving the seeds for toasting later
- Sprinkle all 4 halves with salt and black pepper
- Plate the squash and fill each center with the ground lamb cabbage mixture
- cashew cream
- Greek yogurt
- sour cream
- fresh sprouts
- raw sunflower seeds
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