I mean, first let’s talk about how cute these little stuffed acorn squash bowls are? We obviously eat with our stomach and our mouth, but also our eyes! While “ugly food” can be tasty food (and is probably a lot tastier than most of those overly-styled instagram images of sweet potato “toast” and layered smoothies), sometimes it’s nice to have something visually appealing on your plate. So bonus points for a weeknight friendly recipe like this that’s also pretty enough to serve as a meatless holiday main.
So when I said weeknight friendly, I promise I wasn’t pulling a Rachael Ray and claiming something as a 30-minute meal then pulling out 348 different ingredients. While this meal recipe does take a little longer than 30 minutes, most of that is acorn roasting time, and it’s actually more simple than it looks.
To make this recipe, first you’ll roast acorn squash halves that are simply seasoned with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture of dried herbs, usually thyme, oregano and sumac, with toasted sesame seeds. I use it almost like an all-purpose seasoning or garnish for many Middle Eastern dishes, like my baked green falafel, mujadarah, or grilled eggplant and zucchini tahini dip. It adds a bit of a smoky, herbal and nutty flavor to dishes.
While the squash is roasting, you’ll make a simple red onion and chard saute, then toss in cooked chickpeas, feta and pistachios at the end to add to texture, flavor, protein and fat to the finished dish. I’ve also made this with golden raisins or currants, which is really tasty too.
Feel free to use other greens in this dish, like kale or spinach. You could also swap different kinds of squash too, like butternut, or my personal favorite - kabocha. It’s super sweet and has the creamiest texture! Of course, you might have to increase or decrease the filling based on the size of the stuffing hole.
This post was originally published November 2014. Images and text have been updated to give you the best content possible!
Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash with Za'atar and Tahini
2 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 teaspoons
4 teaspoons za'atar
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bunch chard, stemmed, chopped and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup pistachios, shelled
1/3 cup tahini
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush each with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of za'atar on each. Place on a baking sheet cut side up and roast in the oven 45 minutes until tender and lightly golden.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook 1 minute. Add chard and a couple tablespoons of water. If you’ve rinsed your chard off in water, the remaining water stuck to the leaves should be enough to help it steam. Stir, cover and cook until the chard is wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
After chard is cooked, stir in chickpeas, feta and pistachios and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice and cumin. Season with salt and set aside.
When squash is tender and roasted, remove from the oven. Divide the chard mixture between the squash, patting it down with the back of a spoon to help pack it in. Place stuffed squash back in the oven to warm through, about 5-7 minutes total.
Serve warm or room temperature, drizzled with tahini dressing.
More “Stuffed” Recipes: