A Cozy Resolution: Oh, To Be Like The Roasted & Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Food can be so very beautiful, and so very unique in its qualities. If we look closely enough and long enough, we can see a world of personality in food, a personality that yearns to communicate volumes in its own special way, if only we’ll listen; if only we’ll have the ears to hear. Food sustains and comforts us, provides sensual pleasure for us and gives us an opportunity to actually examine for ourselves how life begins and sprouts; how it grows and evolves over time. Though the process may seem painfully slow at times, it’s there for us to witness if we so choose. How we view food and how we use it ultimately speaks of our respect for it or lack thereof, and that in-turn reveals much to us about our own human nature. There’s a world of life lessons to be learned through food, and what gorgeous and generous a teacher it’s showing itself to be, indeed.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

An unpretentious piece of nature’s art such as an acorn squash, inspires me to no end; what a shape it has, and what sensation that its thick, waxy skin provides my fingers as they run across its ridges and peaks. Sliced open, it has an almost flower-like look, one that reminds me of the simple but colorful flower-on-stem that I used to doodle over and over again as a little girl. With its stringy seeds scooped out and its bright orange flesh unobscured, an acorn squash seems to beckon to be roasted until soft and buttery, and filled with other complimentary morsels to create a brand new “whole”; a healthy, well-balanced and nourishing whole to be enjoyed and appreciated for what it provides one’s body. And that’s where I begin to see an interesting lesson forming, one that inspires me to find a parallel for my own life. I begin to recognize those elements of balance and well-being that a meal like this can bring to a person, all contained within an interesting and lovely package; and I consider that on a human level, I too, aspire to contain those very elements of balance and healthiness, of nourishment—that I may enrich, touch and make better another human life. Oh, to be like the roasted and stuffed acorn squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash

The beauty and the personality that is found in nature’s art, in food, is something that I’m grateful to be able to witness more and more these days, and appreciate. I’m working on being willing and available to having the eyes to see with and the ears to hear with, those subtle messages that are being quietly communicated to my heart. There are many things all around, perhaps some of them a bit unconventional and easy to overlook, that long to speak to us and possibly even teach us in their own quiet way. They just seem to follow the natural laws that they’re under and do what they’re created to do. And on those fleeting occasions when I take note of something “natural” trying to teach me something, may I be glad; and may I remember that I too have been created to be a benefit—a source of balance, health and well-being— to my fellow human beings, and to follow that prompting should be equally as natural to me.

Taste what’s good and pass it on.


Stuffed Acorn Squash

Roasted & Stuffed Acorn Squash with Brown Rice, Seasoned, Lean Ground Beef and Black Beans, with a touch of Sharp White Cheddar
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(Serves 4)


2 acorn squash
• Olive oil
• Salt
• Fresh cracked black pepper
¼ onion, finely diced
¼ lb extra lean ground beef (96/4)
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Pinch cumin
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• Pinch cinnamon
¾ cup cooked brown rice
½ cup black beans
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, divided use
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
¼ teaspoon orange zest
¼ cup finely shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 green onion, chopped, for garnish
• Simple Tomato-Cilantro Salad (recipe below)


-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

-Prepare the acorn squash by cutting off the bottom “point” to create a flat surface (don’t take too much off), and also cut the stem part off to create another flat surface, again taking care to not cut too much off; next, cut the squash in half width-wise, in the center, creating 4 halves; scoop the seeds and stringy bits out, drizzle a little bit of olive oil into each of the 4 halves, and add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper to each half; place each squash half onto the baking sheet with the cavity facing down, and roast for roughly 35 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender; remove from the oven, and allow the squash to cool slightly until they can be handled; leave the oven on.

-While the squash roasts, cook the ground beef by placing a medium-size non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and drizzling in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in the onion, and saute for about 2 minutes; next, add in the ground beef and break it up with a spoon/spatula into small crumble; once the beef has slightly browned, add in a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, the garlic, the cumin, the cayenne and the cinnamon, and stir to combine; allow the beef to finish browning, then turn the heat off, and turn the seasoned beef mixture out into a bowl; next, add to the beef the cooked brown rice, the black beans, the quartered cherry tomatoes, the chopped cilantro, the sunflower seeds and the orange zest, and combine the ingredients very well; add another pinch of salt if needed, and set the mixture aside for a moment, keeping warm.

-Once the squash is cool enough to handle, spoon equal portions of the beef/rice mixture into the cavity of each squash half, sprinkle over the top about 1 tablespoon of the sharp cheddar cheese, and place the halves back onto the baking sheet and into the oven to bake for an additional few minutes just until the cheese melts; serve with Tomato-Cilantro Salad on the side, for a fresh and bright addition.

Simple Tomato-Cilantro Salad ingredients:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
• Salt
• Olive oil


-Place the halved tomatoes into a bowl, and add in the cilantro, the lemon or lime juice, a pinch of two of salt and a drizzle of olive oil; toss all ingredients together, and keep in fridge until ready to serve.

{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Lynda Rice January 17, 2013, 9:38 am

    I want to paint this beautiful dish! What a colorful, healthy and savory dish for this month.

  • Madonna January 28, 2013, 2:29 pm

    This is really beautiful. I can see this as an impressive lunch for friends. I love wow recipes.

    • The Cozy Apron January 28, 2013, 3:53 pm

      I appreciate that, Madonna – thank you. And the best part is that it’s not complicated; just cute and tasty!

  • Sarah October 19, 2013, 7:10 pm

    So yummy! I used quinoa instead of brown rice, skipped the cheese and beef to make it vegan, and topped it with guacamole. Thanks for your inspiring photos!

  • Emily P. November 4, 2013, 6:47 pm

    I found this recipe and your blog through the Buzzfeed post, and I gotta say, this is one of the best things I’ve made/eaten in a long time. I only roasted one squash because that’s what I had, but the stuffing fit perfectly into the two halves. Thank you for this awesome recipe! I can’t wait to make it again.

    • The Cozy Apron November 5, 2013, 11:07 am

      Hey Emily, thanks so much your comment! Glad you enjoyed – it’s one of our favorite healthy meals. I appreciate you stopping by and trying this recipe out!

  • Lisa December 9, 2013, 5:33 pm

    I just made this and had to write about how amazing it was! We have just started trying to eat more healthy so this was a nice transition food to use what was still in the pantry and incorporate new items. The seasonings are so nice together. I used brown rice but I can see how this can be interchangeable with different grains and even meatless. I’m happy to add it to the new meal rotation. Thanks!

    • The Cozy Apron December 10, 2013, 12:58 pm

      Thanks for that, Lisa – that’s really wonderful! And you’re so right about being able to interchange ingredients in this; it’s great with quinoa, barley, or even no grains, as well!

  • Julie October 16, 2014, 9:02 pm

    This was SO tasty! I made it with turkey and all the flavors went together so well. Terrific recipe!

    • The Cozy Apron October 17, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Julie, excellent (and leaner) substitution—perfect! Glad you enjoyed this tasty fall recipe, and thanks for taking a moment to share your experience with me!

  • Steph K. November 10, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Wow, this is so beautiful!

  • The Cozy Apron November 11, 2014, 9:43 am

    Thank you, Steph!

  • Cheryl November 22, 2014, 3:13 pm

    This was delicious, beautiful to look at and easy to prepare. My husband and I look forward to having regularly.

    • The Cozy Apron November 22, 2014, 8:13 pm

      Cheryl, thanks so much for sharing how things turned out for you! I’m so pleased that you and your hubby enjoyed this, and that it was easy enough to prepare. Honored to have it go into your rotation!

  • Helen November 26, 2014, 6:30 pm

    This beautiful dish was yummy and easy! My daughter, the Art teacher, said it looked like a piece of art! I can’t wait to serve friends for a holiday lunch. Thanks for sharing!

    • The Cozy Apron November 26, 2014, 10:39 pm

      Helen, that’s wonderful! It’s my pleasure to share this, and I’m so thrilled that you’ll be serving it to friends for lunch! Thank you for your kind comments.

  • Dayle Ann March 4, 2015, 8:53 am

    This looks amazing!! I am usually one who cooks from recipes so I don’t venture too far on my own. I was wondering though if mushrooms would work instead of ground beef. My daughter for health reasons is deleting meat from her diet. I want to make one as per your recipe, but was hoping to find a meat alternative for the other one. Any suggestions would definitely welcomed!!

    • The Cozy Apron March 4, 2015, 4:08 pm

      Hi there Dayle Ann, thanks for your question! You could certainly substitute chopped mushrooms for the meat; another alternative would be ground soy—it looks like ground beef, has a very similar texture (it’s technically texturized soy), and can be very easily seasoned. I actually used to use this for my own clients who were vegan/vegetarian in this type of recipe. You can find it at Whole Foods Market, or Trader Joes, or Sprouts. It should be in the vegetarian section near the tofu, etc. Hope you all enjoy!

  • Mary Evelyn June 20, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Delicious … Will definitely make this again.

    • The Cozy Apron June 21, 2015, 2:45 pm

      Hi Mary Evelyn, so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you for commenting.

  • Mel August 27, 2015, 8:20 pm

    Tried it, Loved it

    • the Cozy Apron August 28, 2015, 5:00 pm

      Mel, I love your comment: short & sweet! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, and thanks for commenting! :-)

  • Delaney September 13, 2015, 10:10 am

    Delicious! Maybe I just used big acorn squashes, but I will make more filling the next time I make this so it heaps instead of just filling the cavity. And double the meat for my carnivore of a boyfriend. Thanks for this great recipe!

    • The Cozy Apron September 13, 2015, 3:56 pm

      Hi Delaney, so glad you both enjoyed!! And yes—do tweak the recipe according to your needs/tastes. :-)

  • Shameem September 28, 2015, 4:06 pm

    Thanks for a great recipe! I used ground turkey instead of beef and cooked the squash in the microwave because I was short on time. Still works!

    • The Cozy Apron September 29, 2015, 7:06 am

      Shameem, so glad you enjoyed, and prepared this according to your liking! :-)

  • Teri October 18, 2015, 11:39 am

    WOW is all I can say about this. I made this last night and both my boyfriend and I thought it was SO delicious. I subbed a brown, red, and wild rice plus quinoa blend, and had PLANNED to replace the sunflower seeds with pine nuts, but forgot to add them. Wamp wamp. 😉 I also used orange and red tomatoes for some extra color. SO good. I’ve been telling everyone about it. Thank you for sharing!

    • The Cozy Apron October 19, 2015, 2:39 pm

      Hey Teri, so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed the recipe! Great tweaks, by the way. :-) Thanks for taking a moment to share your experience (and for telling others about it)!

  • Jill November 2, 2015, 3:03 pm

    I’m excited to make this! Silly question… do you eat the skin of the squash?

    • The Cozy Apron November 3, 2015, 8:56 am

      Hi Jill! Glad you’re going to give the recipe a try! And no, it’s not a silly question; you actually would not enjoy the skin, as it’s too waxy and tough. 😉

  • Maria November 17, 2015, 2:28 pm

    This was so delicious! I had to sub in a few things because I thought I had certain pantry items and I didn’t, but I really loved the flavor. Thanks.

    • The Cozy Apron November 17, 2015, 7:12 pm

      Maria, way to go with finding good substitutions that you did have on hand, lol! Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Jessica March 28, 2016, 8:02 pm

    This was amazing. I used veggie “ground beef” since I’m a vegetarian and it turned out great. I was wondering about adding the orange zest in, but the flavour combo was perfect. I did cook also cook it on the BBQ, turned out great. Plus the salad was amazing, it’s a great simple salad.

    • The Cozy Apron March 30, 2016, 6:22 pm

      Hi Jessica, great sub-in with the veggie crumbles—I’ve used those for vegetarian partakers, and it works great! So glad you enjoyed these, and thanks for commenting.

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