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This Stuffed Acorn Squash Is the Perfect High-Protein, Nutrient-Dense Fall Dinner

Emily Laurence

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Transform seasonal produce into a protein-packed dinner with this stuffed acorn squash recipe.

Acorn squash is one of those foods that’s so eye-catching when it’s prepped and plated that it’s born to be the center of attention —or at least your dinner table. The only thing holding it back from main-course status is its natural lack of protein (meaning that it doesn’t quite have the staying power to sustain you solo once the meal is over).

Thankfully, Indigikitchen founder Mariah Gladstone has a solution for that in the form of stuffed acorn squash, which she demonstrates how to make in the latest episode of Well+Good’s show Cook With Us. She stuffs the acorn squash with bison, wild rice, onion, garlic, and spinach for a dish that’s so balanced in nutrients that you honestly don’t need to pair it with anything else.

“This recipe is great for the autumn because we’re using a delicious, sweet winter squash and we’re filling it with wild rice and bison, both wonderful Indigenous ingredients,” Gladstone says. Bison is particularly important to many Native American communities  as a source of food and spiritual connection; the animal was hunted into near-extinction by the U.S. army and settlers during the 1800s to subjugate Indigenous peoples. “By utilizing bison in our recipe today, we’re sending the message that we want bison returned to the ecosystems that they have been taken from,” she notes.

The wild rice—another Indigenous ingredient Gladstone used in last week’s episode—in the dish brings healthy carbs to the table. Registered dietitian  Patricia Bannan, RDN, previously told Well+Good that it’s one of the most nutritious rice options there is. “It’s high in protein, low in fat and sodium, a good source of fiber, and provides vitamins and minerals,” she said.

Of course, the spinach, garlic, and onion come with their own benefits too; spinach is a particularly good source of fiber and iron while garlic is linked to lowering inflammation and supporting the immune system.

“Winter squash is nice because it has a hard skin that helps it be preserved for weeks and months on end,” Gladstone adds. So if you don’t end up using what you bought to make this dish, you’ll have plenty of time to use them in the future—a major sustainability win. (BTW, the acorn squash itself is full of benefits, including fiber and vitamin A.)

What’s not to love? Watch the video above to see Gladstone’s technique, and catch the recipe here.

Bison and wild rice stuffed squash

Ingredients

2 acorn squash
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 Tbsp avocado oil (can substitute sunflower oil or olive oil)
1 lb wild game sausage (can substitute ground meat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh spinach (optional)
Chili powder (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. If wild rice is uncooked, prepare according to package directions.

2. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Brush with oil and place cut side down on a cookie sheet. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, or until flesh is tender.

3. While squash cooks, brown ground sausage on medium heat. When fully cooked, add garlic and cut green onions. If including spinach, add and stir fresh spinach into pan, and cook until wilted.

4. Remove squash from oven and turn squash so cut side is up. Allow squash to cool for 10 minutes so it will be easier to work with. You may have to cut the bottom so squash will sit flat.

5. With a spoon, enlarge the “bowl” part of the squash. The larger the hole, the more filling it will hold.

6. Add wild rice to the meat mixture and mix. Gently scoop stuffing into squash and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder (optional).

7. Bake at 425° for 5 more minutes, or until top of squash is golden brown.

Join Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group to join in on our month-long cooking with squash challenge.

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