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The comfort of Mac and Cheese and the flavor of fall come together in this hearty and delicious macaroni and cheese stuffed acorn squash.

This is an easy, family friendly meal, with the mac and cheese being the most challenging part of the dish (and mac and cheese isn’t too challenging). It’s hard not to love the creamy goodness of macaroni and cheese possibly mixed with some ground meat or meat substitute as a main dish. Spooning that into the sweet goodness of an acorn squash, you’ve just combined a healthy side dish right there with a family favorite!

Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash
Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash Fresh out of the Oven

What do I need for my Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash?

The foundations for macaroni and cheese stuffed acorn squash are right in the title, so the first thing you’ll need is an acorn squash. Acorn squash are typically a nice, deep green and can have spots of orange on them from where they were laying on the ground. Look for some that are a dull in color and heavy for their size, which indicates they’re ripe. You will need one acorn squash for every two servings you are making and a little bit of olive oil and some kosher salt and ground black pepper to season the squash.

The base of the Macaroni and Cheese is the elbow macaroni. If you would like to add ground meat you can use ground turkey, beef, sausage, or to keep it vegetarian, a ground meat substitute.

The flavor in the sauce comes from a couple cloves of garlic and diced shallots. We use a simple jack and cheddar blend for the cheese, but you can definitely mix in other cheeses of your choice. To get the correct consistency of the sauce you’ll need a little bit of flour and some milk.

Finally, for the topping we use shredded parmesan and panko bread crumbs.

That’s it! Now that you’ve got your ingredients, let’s get cooking!

Putting Together the Dish

The first part of this is preparing your acorn squash. Baking an acorn squash is a pretty simple process. Warm up your oven to 375 degrees. While it warms up, Cut the acorn squash in half, remove seeds and strings, brush with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.

Preparing Acorn Squash

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, place the squash face down on the paper, and put in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.

While your squash bakes you make your macaroni and cheese. First, bring a cup of water to a boil, add the macaroni, and let it cook for about nine minutes. It should be al dente, which means it will be soft throughout, but still firm enough to spring back when you touch it so it’s not mushy.

Important note! When you drain your pasta save about a quarter cup of the pasta water to later flavor your mac and cheese sauce.

Watch Dre through the whole Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash proccess

For the cheese and meat sauce, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add your diced shallots and cook for three to four minutes. When they start to become slightly translucent and lightly brown, add your ground meat or meat substitute and the garlic. We like using a meat substitute for this, as it carries the texture and flavor of meat and keeps the dish vegetarian. You can also cook this without any meat at all and simply stick to the macaroni and cheese if you like.

Once everything is mixed together, add the tablespoon of butter and stir until everything is coated with the butter. Stir in the flour and mix well. The flour will give your sauce a nice consistency. Once it is mixed in, stir in the milk until the mixture comes to a soft boil. Reduce your heat to low at this point and stir in the cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese Mix

Mix everything up well so you get a nice, smooth consistency through the whole sauce.

Once it slightly thickens, which should take a couple of minutes, stir in your cooked macaroni and the 1/4 cup of pasta water. Stir everything together until you’ve got a nice, rich, creamy macaroni and cheese sauce. Take off the heat and set aside.

For the topping, you will mix up your panko bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese.

Once your squash are finished cooking, pull them out of the oven and flip them over so the face side is up. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Baked Acorn Squash

At this point, you’ll fill the cavity of the squash with the macaroni and cheese mix and top with the bread crumb and parmesan topping and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

Put everything back in the oven again for about 5-10 minutes, just enough time to get everything melted together nicely, and you’re done! If you like a nice crispy top you can turn the oven up to broil for a minute or two and get the top crisp, just don’t forget your macaroni and cheese stuffed acorn squash is in there.

Now all you have to do is put on a plate, and enjoy!

Why We Love Acorn Squash for our MS diet

As with its fellow members of the winter squash family, acorn squash is rich in nutrients and packs a healthy punch for any meal. Acorn squash is a great natural source of vitamin C, which we love to supplement our diet with to maintain a healthy immune system, particularly as we move into fall and winter months.

On top of that, this beautiful, rich green fruit that presents more as a vegetable, is a great source of antioxidants. We talk about antioxidants a lot, because antioxidants are great in the fight against unstable free radicals and help prevent cellular and DNA damage. It’s also a fantastic source of fiber, which is a huge benefit to the digestive system.

While we realize that this dish does get that macaroni and cheese punch that moves this from the healthy side to the comfort side of our recipes, we do love that it also moves this incredibly healthy squash that often plays a side dish right into that main dish role.

Please visit our Resources page if you are interested in finding some of the tools and gadgets Dre uses to make cooking accessible while cooking wiith MS.

Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash
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Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 50 min Total Time 1 hr 5 mins Servings: 2 Best Season: Fall

Description

The comfort of Mac and Cheese and the flavor of fall come together in this hearty and delicious macaroni and cheese stuffed acorn squash.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper.

  3. Place the squash face down, shell side out, onto the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

  4. Bring one cup of water to a boil, add the macaroni and let it cook for approximately nine minutes or until al dente. Set aside and reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

    Macaroni
  5. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften

  6. Add the ground beef and the garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the meet begins to brown.

    You can use any selection of ground meat, including turkey, meat substitute, sausage, or no meat at all if you don't want it in there!
  7. Add the butter and mix until everything is coated. Then add the flour and mix well. Add the milk and stir until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the cheese and mix well.

    Cheese Mixture in Skillet
    We use a jack and cheddar mix for the cheese. You can replace this with a different cheese for different flavor.
  8. Once the mixture begins to thicken slightly, add the macaroni and the pasta water, stir until everything is covered in cheese sauce.

    Adding Macaroni to Cheese Sauce
  9. In a small bowl, mix the Panko breadcrumbs and the shredded Parmesan together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  10. Once the squash are done, spoon the macaroni and cheese mixture into the squash cavity and sprinkle with the Panko/Parmesan mixture and drizzle with olive oil.

    Stuffing Cooked Squash
  11. Reduce the oven heat to 350° and place the stuffed squash back into the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until contents are hot and melty. If desired you can turn the oven to broil for a couple of minutes to add a little color to the Bread crumb mix. Remove from the oven and serve.  Enjoy!

    Finished Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash
Keywords: Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash
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