Southwest Stuffed Squash
If the words “stuffed” and “squash” in the title of this dish isn’t sweet music to your ears, then what if I throw in “chorizo” and “queso fresco”? If you’re anything like me, there’s a straight up symphony going on in your head (and maybe your stomach) right now.
Whether Texas weather chooses to acknowledge it or not, it is officially the fall season, and my friends at the Dallas Farmer’s Market are rolling out fall produce by the truckloads. To be completely honest, I didn’t know there was more than one type of acorn squash until this past weekend when I saw the beautiful display of orange, yellow, and green at Kelley Produce’s stand.
There are so many things to do with squash. Puree it into a thick and creamy soup (which I’ll be doing as soon as these temps drop), roast it with salt and cinnamon for a side, pair it with yogurt and honey for a simple dessert, or cube it to salads, curries, or stir-fry. If you’ve never had it, it’s similar in texture and flavor to butternut squash, but a little less sweet and with softer skin.
When it came to deciding what to make this weekend, stuffed squash was definitely the winner. There is something about using food as a vessel that makes the presentation so beautiful and organic, causing us to slow down and savor. Plus, stuffing it all in there lets the flavors get nice and cozied up. The sweet and crunchy peppers, juicy beef, salty chorizo, and tender squash tastes like wearing your softest sweater feels. So, if your taste buds aren’t happier than a teenage girl on the first day of sweater weather (which is soon, I hope), then I have failed you.
Let’s get to the good stuff!
Southwest Stuffed Squash:
Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard or save them for roasting. Place the cut squash face down on an oiled baking sheet and roast about 25 minutes until squash is tender and edges begin to caramelize.
While the squash roasts, cook brown rice according to package directions, being sure to add salt (about ½ tsp) and crushed garlic clove to infuse flavor.
While the brown rice cooks, heat ½ T. cooking fat (I used ghee for concentrated flavor) over medium heat. Add onion, lower heat a bit to about 4.0, and let cook about 5 minutes, until they begin to sweat and caramelize. Add bell peppers, jalapenos, 2 T. minced garlic, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1.4 tsp. red pepper, and ½ tsp. salt and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, place into a large bowl and set aside.
Using the same skillet, place back over medium heat and add ground beef and chorizo. Allow to sear before breaking it up with a spoon. Add 2 tsp. child powder, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and ¼ tsp. cinnamon and continue to cook until the meat is nice and browned, about 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat into the bowl with the vegetables. Add the brown rice to the mixture and stir in crumbled queso fresco, allowing the heat to melt the cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
When the squash is done roasting, allow them to cool slightly before filling. After doing so, fill the squash with the mixture and place them back in the oven for 10 minutes until browned and heated through. Top with more queso fresco and top with sliced avocado, salsa, and/or Greek yogurt (a lighter alternative to sour cream).
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