Cheesy Italian Stuffed Acorn Squash with Ground Beef
Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash has everything you love about your favorite Italian comfort food in a healthy recipe that’s ready in about 30 minutes. The family will love the savory ground beef and sauce, plus three kinds of cheese. And you’ll cut the carbs when you swap out the pasta from classic homemade lasagna to make it a veggie-packed and budget-friendly quick and easy dinner.
I was totally against online grocery shopping services for the longest time. I wanted to look at my meat, feel my fruits and veggies, the whole nine yards. But once I tried it, it was a game-changer.
First of all, despite the fee, I think it really does save me money. It’s easier to stick to my list since I am not in the store giving in to impulse buys.
If I have a particularly crazy week, it does save me some time to be able to “do my grocery shopping” while I’m sipping my iced coffee in the morning or watching Netflix late at night from my couch. Then I just pick it up when I am out and about doing errands the next day.
Plus the sanity I save by not having to drag two kids through the grocery store… priceless!
And just as online grocery shopping saves me time, money, and sanity, so does this stuffed squash recipe.
Everyone is always looking for easy dinners for busy nights, and if it’s budget-friendly, that’s a bonus, too. Acorn squash recipes can be a very frugal choice, especially in the fall and winter when it is in season. Ground beef recipes are also economical options, and the only other things you need are tomato sauce and cheese.
And when it comes to time savings, this one can’t be beaten. Take a few minutes to prep your squash, and while it is roasting, prepare the fillings. Then just stuff it all in and give it another few minutes in the oven to get melty and delicious. Plus the kids think it’s fun to be able to eat their bowl, like this Turkey Chili in an Acorn Squash Bowl.
Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
For many people, the pasta is the comfort food element of a classic lasagna, but if you are all about the sauce, meat, and cheese, this is the meal for you. Especially if you might crave a gluten-free lasagna but don’t want to go through the work of making all those layers!
This Italian-inspired recipe has all that ground beef and ricotta and mozzarella cheese. But it is stuffed into roasted acorn squash for a bowl you can eat. And that bowl is a vegetable. That means your protein and your veggies all in one dish. Plus it’s an inexpensive meal to make and doesn’t take a ton of time or effort.
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
- Acorn squash
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Ground beef
- Tomato sauce – use your favorite store bought or homemade sauce. BUDGET TIP: a small 8 ounce can of tomato sauce is an economical option.
- Ricotta cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
The first step is to make your roasted squash bowls following these simple steps.
How to cut acorn squash
Be very careful when cutting acorn squash. Make sure to cut it on a stable surface, such as a large wooden cutting board with a damp kitchen towel underneath. This helps to prevent the cutting board from moving around. Using a very sharp knife, cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds.
How to roast acorn squash
- After cutting your acorn, place the halves on a baking sheet and brush the insides with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, flip them over, and bake cut side down at 400°F for about 20 minutes.
- You can then proceed with the rest of this recipe. If you are not filling your squash, you may want to give it another 5 to 10 minutes in the oven with the cut side up.
Directions overview – scroll to the recipe card for the full set of instructions
- Roast the squash as directed above until it is tender, but do not pop it back into the oven for the additional time.
- While the acorn squash roasts, make the meat sauce. Saute ground beef and onions, and stir in tomato sauce.
- Remove the squash from the oven, flip each side over, and fill the squash halves with ricotta cheese and the meat sauce mixture.
- Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and pop back the stuffed squash in the oven just until the cheese melts and browns slightly.
Can you eat the skin of acorn squash?
After roasting, the skin of acorn squash typically becomes quite tender, so yes, you can eat it if you like. However, if you prefer not to eat the skin, the flesh does separate from the skin quite easily. That is why it is recommended to roas acorn squash with the skin on. Due to the thickness of the skin and the grooves, it is very difficult to peel before baking.
What does acorn squash taste like?
Acorn squash has a slightly sweet and mild flavor and an almost buttery texture. It is not as strong of a flavor as butternut squash or pumpkin, which means it pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It is often roasted with warm spices and flavors like maple syrup and cinnamon or ginger. But it also contrasts nicely with the kick of chili or cayenne pepper. And it can be served or stuffed with grains like wild rice or quinoa, sweet flavors like apples or dried cranberries, and earthy herbs such as sage and thyme.
However, in this recipe, that mild sweetness and creamy texture also pair well with the creaminess of the ricotta cheese, the rich flavors of tomato, oregano, garlic, and onion in the sauce, and the toasty flavors of the melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
What meat goes with squash?
You’ll often see squash recipes with meats like chicken and pork. You’ll often see it served alongside a Thanksgiving turkey. Sometimes it is even stuffed with Italian sausage.
In this recipe, I used ground beef in the meat sauce. However, you could substitute ground chicken or turkey for a leaner option. You can also use ground pork or Italian sausage removed from its casings to add additional flavor. You could even skip the meat altogether or add some chopped mushrooms or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
Is acorn squash gluten free?
Yes, acorn squash is gluten free, making this a great alternative with all the same flavors as a traditional gluten free lasagna.
Is acorn squash a carb?
Acorn squash is definitely a higher carb veggie, so it may not fit into a keto or very low carb diet. However, compared to pasta, this is a lower-carb alternative to lasagna. In addition, these are natural carbs and sugars from the vegetable. This is definitely a better option for a good source of carbohydrates compared to processed foods and refined sugars.
Make it a meal
You can take inspiration from your favorite Italian dinners for side dishes to serve with this meal.
- Serve it with a simple salad drizzled with this Creamy Balsamic Healthy Salad Dressing Recipe,
- To add some green veggies, toss some roasted broccoli with parmesan cheese or balsamic roasted veggies in the oven along with the squash.
- Have some crusty bread, or, for a low carb option, Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Cauliflower Bread Sticks, to dunk into that gooey middle.
- You can even serve it with a side of pasta or zoodles.
More stuffed vegetable recipes
- Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
- Beef Stroganoff Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Greek Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Bolognese Stuffed Mushrooms
- Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Peppers
- Pressure Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Pressure Cooking Today
- Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes from The Noshery
You could also try stuffing your lasagna goodness inside a Cheesy Mozzarella Stuffed Meatloaf!
Lasagna Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 small acorn squash cut in half and seeds removed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup tomato sauce, plus additional for serving if desired (can use any type from a can or jar, or homemade)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil; set aside.
- Brush each squash cut half with ¼ teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash cut side down until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- While the squash is baking, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ground beef, season with salt and pepper, brown the ground beef, breaking up as it cooks.
- Darin any excess grease, then stir in the tomato sauce and cook until heated through.
- Remove the squash from the oven and flip them over. Place a quarter cup of ricotta cheese in the bottom of each of the squash. Divide the meat mixture between the squash and top each with a quarter cup of mozzarella and about a teaspoon of parmesan cheese.
- Return squash to the oven and baked for about another ten minutes until the squash is tender and the cheese is melted and slightly browned.