Food & Drink

Stuffed acorn squash takes on Brazilian flavors

This fall-inspired stuffed acorn squash dish is simple and delicious. (Alexandra Olsen/For The Gazette)
This fall-inspired stuffed acorn squash dish is simple and delicious. (Alexandra Olsen/For The Gazette)

If there is one thing I learned from all the years I spent in the kitchen with my Brazilian grandmothers and my mom, it’s that cooking is all about creativity.

This month, I wanted to share a fall-inspired recipe. However, fall in Brazil is not typically as festive or as themed as it is here in the States.

Halloween and Thanksgiving both only recently have become a part of the holiday culture there. Although, the seasons are switched in the southern hemisphere and what is fall to us is actually spring to South America.

So, you can see my dilemma when I was brainstorming a fall-centric recipe for this month’s column.

I asked my grandmother if she had any recipes that used squash or pumpkin, and she reminded me of how she likes to saute kabocha squash — what Brazilians call abobora cabotia — and serve it with ground beef, veggies and rice.

My memories of this dish, and the familiar recurring flavors of my grandmother’s cooking, immediately came rushing back.

Many of the dishes I grew up eating are not made with specific recipes in mind. They were, and still are, developed as my grandmother visits the farmers market and looks through her pantry.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

I decided to take her squash dish as inspiration this month and put my own spin on these classic southern Brazilian flavors.

Kabocha squash can be a bit tricky to find at your everyday grocery store, but acorn squash has a very similar texture and flavor profile and is abundant this time of year.

I decided to develop my own recipe for a stuffed acorn squash and incorporate all those delicious — yet simple — Brazilian flavors into the filling.

I hope you enjoy my twist on this month’s recipe, and I hope it inspires you to develop your own recipes, just like a Brazilian grandmother would.

Follow Alexandra on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed

1 cup of cooked long-grain white rice

1 yellow onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1/4 cup fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. Cover in olive oil and place cut side-down on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.

While you wait for the squash to bake, prepare your filling.

Cook your rice as directed, set aside.

Saute onion, green pepper and garlic in a pan with olive oil. Once onions are translucent, add in your ground beef and brown. Add in oregano, paprika and sage before stirring in about one cup of your cooked rice. Salt to taste.

Take the mixture off the heat and add in your fresh parsley.

Take squash out of the oven and gently flip over. Fill the seed cavities with your filling, top with cheese and return to the oven to broil until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before sprinkling with more fresh parsley and serving.

Source: Adapted by Alexandra Olsen

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.