Monday, November 2, 2009

Baked Acorn Squash filled with Apples and Walnuts

Sometimes I just have a block when it comes to how to start writing a post. I was sitting in my living room sipping my green tea, with ginger and vitamin C when I remembered the inspiration for this dish. I grew up eating acorn squash that was filled with sausage and maple syrup. It was one of few things my father cooked when I was growing up. This recipe is my much healthier take on that childhood memory.

I knew my parents liked acorn squash since they ate them years ago. However, I wasn’t certain they would like it with less sugar, no butter and no meat. This recipe was definitely a gamble. Much to my surprise they liked and asked me how I made it. Sometimes my parents can still surprise me. I was concerned this recipe wouldn’t have enough sugar, fat or salt and instead they asked for the recipe. Last night’s dinner was much more of a success than I anticipated. I get so excited when omnivores enjoy vegan food.

I like to steam my acorn squash in the oven. By cooking them, cut side down, the flesh steams inside the skin. I think it concentrates the flavor. The apples are cooked separately since they need less time to cook. I added the agave to give a nod to the recipe from my childhood. Walnuts were included because they work well with apples, but also because they provide healthy omega 3 fatty acids. I seasoned the apples like apple pie, with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The flavors were subtle but the aroma was wonderful. Here is what I did.

Baked Acorn Squash filled with Apples and Walnuts
Serves 4


2 acorn squash, cut in half (top to bottom) and seeds removed
½ teaspoon canola oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 apples, cored and cut into bite size pieces
½ cup water or white wine (I would use pinot grigio) you could add a little bourbon to the water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
½ tablespoon agave, to drizzle on top
2 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (I used my convection setting).

Coat the inside and cut edges of the squash halves with the canola oil. You want a light film of oil on all the orange flesh. Sprinkle the orange flesh with a little salt and pepper. Turn the squash over, so the cut side is down, and place it on a half sheet pan. If you are concerned about sticking you can line the sheet pan with quick release aluminum foil, parchment paper or a silpat. I didn’t use any of those things and it didn’t stick, but precaution is always a good idea.

Cook the squash until a paring knife will easily pierce the skin and flesh. This happened at 40 minutes in my oven. You want the squash flesh to easily release from the skin.

While the squash is baking combine the apples, water (or wine), cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and cook until the apples have reached the tenderness you like. I cooked mine about 10 minutes but I like them to still have a little body.

When the squash are cooked turn them over (careful, they are hot and steam will escape). Fill the squash halves with apples, drizzle a little agave on the apples and top with walnuts. If you desire you can add a little cinnamon or nutmeg on top. These are best served warm.

Nutritional Information (assumes water was used in the apples):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 172.86
Calories From Fat (17%) - 29.04

Total Fat - 3.44g
Saturated Fat - 0.37g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 8.47mg
Potassium - 881.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 38.06g
Fiber - 6.34g
Sugar - 10.95g
Protein - 2.61g


My husband and I loved this recipe and it may be our new “go to” for acorn squash. Sometimes I fill the squash with a brown and wild rice pilaf with dried fruit but this version is healthier and just as tasty.

Each serving of this recipe contains 800IU of vitamin A, 95mg of calcium, and 40mcg of folate. Additionally apple and particularly apple skins contain polyphenols. These antioxidants have been shown to inhibit the growth of liver, colon, and breast cancer cells in lab experiments. A few years ago the consumption of foods higher in quercitin (apples and onions immediately come to mind) were found to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. And now you know why we eat an apple and walnut butter everyday.

If you want a little more flavor bourbon would also be good in the apples. It is my new favorite combination. I didn’t use it tonight because all the alcohol doesn’t burn off during cooking (most does, but not all) and my mother is on a med that has alcohol off the ingredient list.

I hope everyone is having a great day. Now I need to work out and then get into the kitchen. I still need to make more seitan for the freezer. These last few days I haven’t been too productive. Be back soon.


  1. This looks really good; I 'm glad your parents are coming around to your healthy cooking.

  2. Rose,

    I am more shocked than anyone that my parents are enjoying my healthy fare. They really are the traditional meat and potatoes type. When my father told me I could make the apple and leek seitan sausages again I was speechless. Thanks again for the suggestion.


  3. That looks scrumptious! Congrats on getting your parents to enjoy some healthy foods, that has to feel amazing. My parents eat horribly and love fast food, my dad has had cancer twice- lymphoma and prostate, but refuses to make any dietary changes and tends to make fun of me for trying to eat healthy. He acts like it's a punishment and even said "oh you poor kid" to my son when he saw my son eating kale chips. So I have given up on enticing them to make a few changes.

    One of the things I love about squash is that it always makes such a lovely presentation. I love that you put walnuts in there. I'm making sweet dumpling squash with sage today and I'm going to add walnuts too!

  4. Janet,

    Thanks! :) I was thrilled that my parents are eating my food. They are hard-core omnivores, but at lest I know when they eat at my house the food they get is healthy. Thanksgiving is still going to be an issue, but I have a little while to figure that out. Wish me luck I will need it.

    My father has had colon cancer twice, and his gall bladder removed emergently last spring. Still I can't convince him to make permanent changes. He gives me the "I have already lived longer than most men why change now argument". Ughh. My father thinks giving up meat is punishment too so I understand what you deal with.

    Are you posting your squash recipe? I would love to see what else you include.


  5. yum! this sounds delicious! i love acorn squash, actually, all squashes! thank you for sharing:)

  6. Comfrey,

    Thanks for commenting, and you are very welcome. I love sharing my recipes. Expect to see more squash recipes in the future. I have four or five different types in my pantry now.


  7. Oh my goodness! You've already done 3 posts in less than a day, I'm so impressed!

    Everything looks and sounds very interesting as always! I know for sure I'll give this acorn squash recipe a try because I just bought them today. I'll have to come back to read the other 2 newer posts after I finish posting mine. Talk to you later, Alicia!

    p.s. Thanks for your reply from the older posts.

  8. Oraphan,

    I can't wait to hear how you like the acorn squash. Also, I am curious to read your post tonight.

    talk to you later,


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