The minute the temperature drops here in New England, I start craving winter squash. From acorn and delicata to honeynut and butternut, not a week goes by without some kind of winter squash making its way to my dinner table.
This recipe for Turkey Bolognese Stuffed Acorn Squash is filled with a mixture of onion, garlic, mushrooms, fresh thyme, dried cranberries, ground turkey, and pasta sauce. It’s brimming with cozy winter flavors, and most of the ingredients in this dish are part of the MIND diet, a style of eating that’s near and dear to my heart … and my brain.
This recipe is a MIND diet lovers dream come true. It’s made with acorn squash, plus other MIND Diet foods including turkey, pasta sauce (tomatoes!), mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
One cup of acorn squash contains 25% of the DV for magnesium, which plays a role in normal brain development, memory and learning.
Also, acorn squash (like carrots) is rich in carotenoids, plant pigments with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that promote brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Watch how easy it is to prepare this fun and healthy recipe!
Makes 4 servings. This recipe is pretty versatile. You can use the turkey mixture as a filling for any favorite baked winter squash—delicata, spaghetti, honeynut—or use it as a topping over whole grain pasta. Serve with a giant, colorful salad on the side.
2medium acorn squash
2tspextra virgin olive oil, plus 1 additional tbsp, divided
1small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
4ozmushrooms, roughly chopped, about 1½ cups
1large garlic clove, minced
1lblean ground turkey
3sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Carefully cut and remove the top and bottom ends of the squash. Slice in half down the middle so the squash halves look like a flower, and scoop out the seeds. (Another way to slice the squash is to cut it in half from stem to tip.)
Brush the insides of the hollowed out squash with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, and season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Place, hollowed side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
While the squash is in the oven, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the turkey and thyme leaves, raise the heat to medium high, and cook, breaking up the large pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the pasta sauce and dried cranberries, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until warmed through, about 1 minute.
Remove the cooked squash from the oven. Fill each squash "bowl" evenly with the turkey mixture. Top each with additional thyme leaves as desired.
Liz is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has been passionate about healthy food and family nutrition for over 20 years. NeuroReserve is very pleased to partner with Liz to develop brain healthy recipes for Brain Table. Liz is the founder of Liz’s Healthy Table, an online platform providing countless resources centered on real food and family friendly recipes. Liz develops new innovative healthy recipes, hosts a bi-weekly foodie focused podcast and makes cooking videos that are sure to inspire the everyday cook. She also teaches hands-on and virtual cooking classes and nutrition basics to school children in and around Boston through a program called Kids Cooking Green. Liz’s mission is to help families of all ages and stripes discover the joy of wholesome and delicious food.