Helloooo, November! Wow! Can you believe we are at the 11th hour and at the close of 2020? Did this year fly by for you? Or did it drag on forever like 7th grade math class? However your year went so far, we are heading into a magical time of the year. Typically this would be the time that we host cookie exchanges, attend parties with friends and family we haven’t seen in a while, and maybe even travel. But obviously 2020 is anything but your typical year. Many of us this year will be gathering for the holidays in much smaller groups – maybe just your household of four, or maybe even just you and your faithful cat. I highly recommend this squash stuffed with turkey for a small holiday gathering. It literally tastes like Thanksgiving on a fork. It’s so simple & is hands-down a (small) crowd pleaser.
Didn’t get enough pumpkin carving during Halloween? That’s okay, because you can get your squash-carving fill here! 🙂 I sliced about ¼ inch off the bottoms of my acorn squash so they could stand on a flat base. If you’re using small pumpkins with flat bottoms, you can skip this step. Then, just like a jack-o-lantern, cut off the top and scoop out the goopy innards! Stuff them with a glorious mixture of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner – savory turkey, sweet apples, tart cranberries, warm spices and fresh thyme. The squash gets so soft and smooth, and it is the same texture as mashed potatoes. Everything together is major comfort food! Even though you might be missing hugs from friends and extended family during these cautious times, this squash stuffed with turkey for a small holiday gathering is like a hug in your belly! 😉
If you have any leftovers, refrigerate them in airtight containers. They are super delicious for the next few days after reheating them and adding extra fresh thyme on top. Stuffed squash is pretty versatile too. You can substitute the quinoa for rice, if that’s more your grain of choice. Leave out the turkey or replace it with lentils to make this a delicious vegetarian dish, and adjust the cooking time as necessary. A whole stuffed squash will happily feed one person, and a half of a stuffed squash makes a delicious side dish (that may just steal the show from the main course!)
If you make this dish, let me know how it turns out! It’s great for the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, or when you want a dairy-free, gluten-free meal prep for the week. It is the season for baked and roasted meals, my friends!
Squash Stuffed with Turkey, Apple, Cranberries and Quinoa
- 4 small, round squash or pumpkin
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 cup quinoa or rice
- 1 large apple (such as Gala or Fuji), diced into ¼ inch pieces
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 1½ Tbsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 Tbsp butter
- thyme leaves, for garnish
- Cut off the tops of the squash and scoop out the seeds and pulp, like you are carving a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. If our squash doesn't stand up straight on its own, cut off a bit from the bottom, so they stand upright while they bake. Place the squashes in one or two casserole dishes (depending on the size of your dishes and if it can fit four squashes or just two.)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a mixing bowl, make the filling by mixing together the ground turkey, quinoa or rice, apple pieces, dried cranberries, salt, cinnamon, paprika, and garlic cloves.
- Pour a large spoonful of the filling into each squash. Pour about a tablespoon of the broth on top of the filling. Continue filling, alternative between the turkey filling and the broth, until you use about 1 cup of the broth and all of the filling. Place 1 Tbsp of butter on top of each squash. Place the tops back on the squash.
- Bake for 1½ hours, then take them out and check if more broth is needed to keep everything moist. Bake for another 1 hour. Let them cool for at least 20 minutes, to allow all the flavors to meld together after coming out of the oven.
- Garnish with a generous amount of thyme (at least 4 sprigs of leaves per squash). A whole squash will make a delicious main course, and a half squash will make a delectable side dish. Enjoy!