Turkey & Apple Stuffed Butternut Squash
Stuff roasted butternut squash with a sweet-savory combination of ground turkey, sage, apples, cranberries, and pecans for the ultimate holiday side dish.
These butternut squash boats would make a beautiful and festive addition to your holiday table, but you can also enjoy them as a fun weeknight dinner! Brown the turkey and other fillings on the stovetop while the squash roasts, then fill them up, broil for a few minutes, and serve!
Many stuffed butternut squash recipes out there use sausage, which is often made with added salt and preservatives. To keep things Paleo, we used ground turkey and seasoned it with garlic, onions, fresh herbs, spicy red pepper, and fennel seeds to create a similar taste profile.
To balance out the savory flavors, we added diced apples and dried cranberries to the mix. We finished the filling with baby spinach, which works great because it wilts quickly. Feel free to roughly chop the spinach if you want smaller pieces, or even substitute with kale—just be sure to cook a few minutes longer so it gets nice and tender.
When your butternut squash halves are done roasting, scoop out the insides and leave just enough room to hold the “boats” together. Save the squash you scooped out for other recipes, like this cauliflower risotto or this Thanksgiving stuffing!
Once you fill the squash evenly with the stuffing, transfer them back to the oven, set to broil and cook a few more minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with more fresh herbs, and enjoy!
Tip: Want to sneak in more veggies? Mushrooms, chopped Brussels sprouts, or even riced cauliflower would all make delicious additions to the filling.
2 butternut squash
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb ground turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 cups baby spinach
1/4 cups unsweetened dried cranberries
1 apple, diced
1/2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Slice the squash lengthwise, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush the insides with 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the squash face down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ground turkey and brown until nearly cooked through, then add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the fresh herbs, red pepper and fennel seeds. Stir and cook another minute.
Add the spinach, cranberries, apples, and pecans. Stir to incorporate, then remove from the heat.
When the squash is finished, let it cool for 5 minutes. Scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¾ inch border around the sides. (Save the squash for another dish!)
Scoop the stuffing mixture into the squash boats and sprinkle with black pepper. Set the oven to broil, discard the parchment paper and place the boats back onto the baking sheet. Broil for 2-4 minutes. Garnish with more fresh herbs if desired, and serve.