This ground beef-stuffed kabocha squash is a shelter-at-home comfort-food recipe. It’s a fun way to dress up ground beef by seasoning it, then stuffing it into flavorful squash. You could even make it as a Mother’s Day surprise – it’s really only a couple of steps beyond a sloppy Joe, really!
We are eating more ground beef than usual, because we bought a large chub of it at Costco and because our food co-op has excellent beef from Moloka’i. So you’ll be seeing a few more recipes with beef as a key ingredient, but with some way of creating variety: seasoning, stuffing, new side dishes, etc.
Kabocha squash is one of our favorites, and this dish was inspired by some little squashes I found at our food co-op. Kabocha is nuttier and more solid than acorn squash. Acorn would be my choice to stuff with this hearty mixture if I couldn’t get kabocha.
I found two slightly different types of kabocha at the co-op. The darker orange ones cooked faster than the lighter greenish ones, so be sure to test both, or use squash of uniform type and size. Both are a little challenging to cut in half, but then easy to scoop to remove seeds and flesh.
Hint: to make any squash easier to cut in half, place the uncut squash into the microwave for 3-5 minutes, then allow to cool. I didn’t do this because I wanted to save some of the seeds to plant in my garden (and they’re coming up out of the soil now!)
The filling is also very forgiving. Substitute any herbs you happen to have on hand: sage instead of thyme, herbes de provence instead of oregano. Stir in rice if you are eating grains, or substitute cooked quinoa, or make it without either. Scooping out some of the squash to stir into the filling is a must, though – it takes up so much flavor and adds a great pop of color!
One of the best ingredients in this recipe is the fresh tomato, which doesn’t look like much once cooked into the filling but gave lots of flavor, and if you love tomatoes, you could double it. Canned would work too. The mushrooms are optional, and you could sub bell pepper if any of your eaters don’t like them.
This recipe makes a lot of filling, but I found if I just kept mounding up the filling into the squashes, it all fit. It didn’t reduce very much in volume so you don’t want to over-pack.
We felt like we were eating very gourmet with this pretty dish! If you are looking for something that looks impressive enough for Mother’s Day but doesn’t really take much more work than, say, Sloppy Joe’s, this could be your solution.
If you have a chance to make this recipe, please leave me a comment so that I know how it went!
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Other baked-rice recipes you may enjoy
Ground Beef-Stuffed Kabocha Squash
- 3 small 4-5 inch kabocha squash (or acorn)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 4 ounces cremini mushrooms chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 large tomato chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried herbes de provence or oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried sage or thyme
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup chopped parsley save some for garnish
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 5 ounces of cheese grated, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.
- Cut the kabocha squash into halves and remove their seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay the squash halves cut side down on it. Roast for 25 minutes or until the kabocha squash feel soft, but not mushy, when poked with a fork. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.
- Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until the onion softens.
- Add the ground beef and cook it until all traces of pink are gone, stirring often.
- Add the tomato, dried herbs, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook further for about 10 minutes, on low-medium heat.
- Remove the roasted kabocha squash from the oven and scoop out some of their flesh, leaving about a half-inch for the shell. Chop the scooped squash and stir into the beef mixture along with the cooked rice and about 3/4 of the parsley.
- Stuff the squash halves with the beef mixture, mounding it fairly high.
- Return to the oven and cook for 15 more minutes.
- Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve!
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