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Middle Eastern Twice-Baked Acorn Squash
with ground beef / cauliflower rice

Active: 40 min Total: 40 min
Tender baked acorn squash is stuffed with fragrant spiced ground beef and cauliflower rice in this fun, flavorful meal.
Smarts #1: You can eat the peel of the acorn squash if you'd like - it gets very soft when baked.
Smarts #2: To prepare this meal ahead, assemble the squash with filling up to 3 days before baking.


Cauliflower Rice:
  • Cauliflower florets - 12 oz
  • Ghee - 1 Tbsp
Middle Eastern Twice-Baked Acorn Squash:
  • Onions, medium - 1/2 , diced
  • Acorn squash - 2 , halved and seeds removed (if using large squash estimate half a squash / serving; if using smaller squash, use one whole squash / serving)
  • Mint leaves - 6 , chopped
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Beef, ground and lean - 1 lb
  • Baby kale - 4 oz (sub baby spinach or regular kale with stems discarded, leaves chopped)
  • Cauliflower rice (ingredients listed separately) - 1 1/2 cups
  • Oil, olive - 4 Tbsp
  • Pomegranate seeds - 1/4 cup (look for these removed from the pomegranate shells in the produce section; sub chopped nuts or skip)
Middle Eastern Spice Blend:
  • Paprika, smoked - 1 tsp (sub regular paprika)
  • Cumin, ground - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander, ground - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon, ground - 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric, ground (opt) - 1/4 tsp


  1. Cauliflower rice - (Skip if made ahead for Tuesday; if prepping right before cooking, get oven heating first.) Pulse florets in a food processor until broken up into ‘rice’-sized bits. Cook rice in one of two ways: 1) Microwave for 4 to 5 minutes and then fold in ghee. Season with some salt and pepper; or 2) Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add ghee. Saute cauliflower in heated ghee for ~5 minutes, until tender but still crunchy. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Watch this video for the full how-to on cauliflower rice. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Make spice blend - Combine paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Onions / Acorn squash - Prep as directed. To help the acorn squash sit upright as it bakes, slice a small sliver off the top and bottom before slicing in half horizontally. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  4. Mint - Chop mint.

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  1. Heat oven to 400F / 204C.
  2. Brush a sheet pan with some oil. Place squash halves cut-side down on sheet pan and roast until tender enough to pierce with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. While squash roasts, heat a skillet or saute pan with oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. To onions, add ground beef and spice mix. Saute, breaking beef apart, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. When beef is nearly finished cooking, stir in baby kale.
  6. Combine beef with cauliflower rice (you can do this in the skillet if there is room, or transfer to a mixing bowl). Taste filling and season with some salt and pepper, if needed.
  7. When squash is tender, remove it from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Flip squash halves and drizzle generously with olive oil and some salt. (Note: the amount of olive oil listed in the recipe is quite high to fit with a Whole 30 diet. If not doing Whole 30, you can reduce the amount to just a thin layer.)
  8. Spoon filling into squash halves, mounding it over top and pressing it down gently if needed.
  9. Return squash to oven and bake for 10 minutes more to let the flavors come together.
  10. Top squash with mint and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!



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