It used to be considered that Sunday was a day of rest. But it comes as no surprise to many of us, that Sunday has become the new Saturday. Gone are the quiet days of reading the morning paper over a leisurely cup of coffee. The norm was that mom or grandmother would spend all afternoon preparing an elaborate meal for three generations of family members who would come together to share laughter and stories over dinner. I remember growing up this way, although most often there was football blaring on the television in the background.
Nowadays, it seems most of us are trying to pack it in on the weekends; endless lists of chores or Sunday morning soccer practices to attend. Although the concept of Sunday dinners quietly disappearing seems sad, it is a reality for many us.
Instead of Sunday, maybe we could strive to create a meal that is simple yet not simplistic on a different day? I’m so excited this holiday season to team up with Simply Organic (https://www.simplyorganic.com) to help you celebrate and set the table on Thursdays.
Our family has been sharing Thursday dinners for quite some time now, somewhat by default. Since I cook often, I try to do an inventory on Wednesday night so that we can clean out the fridge before the end of the weekend. By Thursday, we have bits and pieces of leftovers.
Usually there is leftover rice or quinoa that gets stuffed into squash. Sometimes there are stray carrots and other vegetables that get tossed into soup. Having leftovers on hand really helps in cutting prep time. Less prep time equals more time to sit around the table and enjoy being together as a family.
One of the Thursday meals that we most frequently enjoy are stuffed vegetables. Now that squash is abundantly in season, my version of stuffed acorn squash with spiced ground turkey and apples is a perfect fall dish.
The squash is roasted to bring out its natural sweet flavors. Ground turkey and mushrooms are sautéed in one pan resulting in less cleanup. Quinoa is added for extra protein and to create a substantial filling. I usually make a big batch in the beginning of the week and use the remainder for this recipe. However, if you don’t have any quinoa on hand, brown rice makes a nice substitute.
Ground turkey is enhanced with warm, fall spices such as Simply Organic’s cinnamon, cumin, oregano and allspice, making a very unique tasting profile. The spices pair nicely with grated apple, which melt away, leaving hints of apple flavor. The sweet elements in apple and squash compliment the savory tones in the ground turkey, creating a harmonious balance. The whole meal comes together in an hour, especially if you cook your grains ahead of time.
This meal is one that is simple enough to make but definitely far from simplistic. It is special enough to serve to guests or to enjoy with your immediate family. And you will cherish it just as much as Sunday dinner because you have taken the time together to savor it before the rush of the weekend begins.
I still strive to make Sunday dinners happen in our house, however, if you can’t get it together for Sunday, don’t sweat it. There is always Thursday which is just as sweet.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spiced Ground Turkey & Apples
Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Sesame-Free
- 2 acorn or carnival squash, cut through the stem, into 4 halves each, a total of 8 pieces. Clean and scrape seeds.
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil plus more for rubbing the squash
- 3 small garlic cloves, crushed and separated
- ½ medium onion or 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 1/2 cup, packed, about 1 med apple, unpeeled & grated on the course setting of a box grater.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 8-10 medium size mushrooms, diced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar + 1 tablespoon water
- 1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
- grated parmesan for sprinkling tops, grated
- pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare & clean the squash. Lay the squash halves on a parchment lined baking tray. Rub the flesh and skin of each squash with olive oil. Brush 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper on the inside of the squash. Lay the squash flesh side down on the baking tray and bake until it is very tender when pricked with a fork about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Do not overcook. Use a potato masher to break up the turkey into smaller pieces. Remove from pan and set aside with its juices.
Cook off any excess liquid/juices leftover in the pan for about 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add shallots or onion. Decrease heat to low. Add salt. Cook until softened & translucent about 5 minutes. Add remainder 1 clove garlic, stir and cook for a minute. Add mushrooms. Increase heat to medium/ medium low. Cook until a bit of water is released from mushrooms, add salt. Cook until they are soft but firm, not mushy.
Add grated apple along with its juices. It will be mushy and watery. Evenly distribute apple shavings with a wooden spoon. Cook for a minute. Add spices; cinnamon, allspice, cumin and oregano. Stir and cook for another minute.
Decrease heat to low. Add ground turkey and cooked quinoa. Add apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon water. Stir everything together. Take off heat. Add chopped parsley or cilantro. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
Remove the squash from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 425 F. Turn the cooked squash over in the baking tray so it is flesh side up( be careful, as steam may escape when you turn it). Scoop the filling into the cavity of each squash. These are small halves so pile it in so that it holds as much as possible without overflowing. Using a microplane, grate parmesan cheese, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake for about 3-5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Place remaining filling in the baking tray surrounding the squash halves.
Top with additional cheese, if desired. Serve on a bed of greens with apple slices and pumpkin seeds.
- Cutting the squash is the hardest part of this whole recipe! I use a large serrated knife. Find an indent in the middle of the squash, press down and bang on your cutting board, making sure your cutting board is secure. The banging action is loud but it will help to cut through the pieces. If your edges are a bit scraggly, do not fret, clean them up with your knife or leave as is. This is a rustic dish so enjoy the imperfections.
- Prepare your quinoa ahead of time. This is the biggest timesaver. I like to make a big batch of grains either in the beginning of the week to save or store in the freezer. You can defrost by taking out of freezer and placing on the counter the same morning or defrost the night before in the refrigerator. Grains freeze well.
- If you cannot have grains due to dietary requirements, leave out completely and add more vegetables of choice or mushrooms.
- Extra filling can be frozen for 3-6 mos.
This post has been sponsored by Simply Organic, a company whose values I admire and spices I love because of their commitment to organic, high-quality products. The photos and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.
Visit Simply Organic at http://www.simplyorganic.com for more holiday inspired recipes. To find more ways to plan your Thursday Moments, visit https://www.simplyorganic.om/community/organic-moments. Enter to win the Ultimate Thursday moments giveaway by taking photos of your parties and recipe creations and uploading to Instagram using #ThursdayMoments- https://www.simplyorganic.com/community/thursday-moments-giveaway.