Friday, October 31, 2014

Acorn Squash, Beef, and Bulgur Casserole

A hearty casserole of ground beef and acorn squash, mixed with bulgur wheat and seasoned with Greek spices. A terrific base for a Bowl.
Happy Halloween! I've been reflecting on how Halloween has changed for me over the years. Single and pre-kids if I was home I'd have a bag or two of candy to hand out to the kids who stopped by. When I had young kids I was all about getting nutritious finger foods into them while they were bouncing around ready to head out for loot. We'd have a pre-trick-or-treating neighborhood party with a secondary goal of preventing too much candy ingestion. As if, my older self says. Now I've got teenagers. One will be trick or treating in a medieval dress from the thrift shop with a floor length cloak she sewed herself. The other will be playing in the marching band at the last game of the season, wearing a costume he made that makes no sense to his folks [Night Vale Community Radio Intern?]. I sense I'm on the cusp of yet another change, as always happens in Life.
Because I answered a question on G+,  I received a free box of FreakyFruits from Melissa's Produce. I have not seen such nice packing since we lived in Japan. So far I've made Buddha's Hand Feta Yogurt Dip, Rambutan Hairy Eyeballs, Mustard Greens Kheema with finger limes, and (not shown) Passion Fruit & Banana Muffins. I'm not under an obligation to share what I've been doing with the fruits, but hey--I started a blog to share what I do with produce.

I've been seeing a lot of bowls lately. My friends share photos of them on FB and Karen from Soup Addict tantalizes me with her amazing bowl creations. Let me be clear--this is a casserole, not a bowl. However, this casserole lends itself to getting your bowl off to a great start. It combines a grain with a  vegetable and a protein (the ever-present ground beef from the cow in the freezer--link to my 106 recipes using ground beef). I like to eat it piled with more vegetables (suggestions below) and a healthy scoop of Acorn Squash Tahini Dip with Greek Seasoning stirred in. After all, like my spouse has taught our son to say, "it's all going to the same place".

I realize that this is the 3rd recipe featuring acorn squash that I've shared in the past 2 weeks. I could have held an Acorn Squash Week.  Instead, I'll just mention that photos and links to all of my recipes for using acorn squash can be found on my Acorn Squash Recipe Collection.

Acorn Squash, Beef, and Bulgur Bake

1 small acorn squash (or 1 cup roasted squash puree)
¾ cup chopped almonds
1 ½ cups precooked bulgur (I used Trader Joes 10 minute bulgur)
3 cups beef stock (here's how I make mine)
½ pound ground beef
¾ cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon Greek seasoning
8 ounces plain tomato sauce
Garnishes: olives, marinated artichoke hearts, feta cheese, hummus, chopped tomatoes, lettuce and Acorn Squash Tahini Dip with Greek Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  To roast the squash, cut it in half, stem to point, and scoop out the seeds & strings.  Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet, add a cup or so of water, and bake for an hour until tender.  [Perhaps we're braising since I added liquid? How trendy.]
To toast the almonds heat a dry skillet over medium heat, add the almonds, and give the skillet a shake every 2-3 minutes until you smell toasted almonds, about 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the chop. Remove to a plate and set aside.
To cook the bulgur, combine bulgur and beef stock in a saucepan. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let rest 5 minutes, then fluff.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain the fat, then add the chopped onion and sauté until softened. [The ground beef in my freezer rarely has any fat to drain off, so I usually throw the beef in to start, then add the onions and cook them together and don't drain.] Add the squash, the Greek seasoning, and the tomato sauce. Stir to combine, then fold in the cooked bulgur.  Turn the combination into a casserole dish, and return to the oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through.
Serve with garnishes of your choice.
This is terrific with Acorn Squash and Tahini Dip.
Behind the scenes of the photo shoot in our crowded breakfast nook with Simon standing guard while Vincent drinks.
This post is shared with Tasty Tuesdays


  1. I'm actually cooking with bulgur for my first time ever soon, I hope I like it as it seems very nutritious. Your recipe looks fantastic, I love adding hearty beef to whole grains, it really changes the way the meal feels to you. And acorn squash - of course! Love it!

    1. Julie,
      I hope you enjoy cooking bulgur. I started off easy, using it in tabbouleh only, but now I just grab it like I'd grab rice or whatever. It's useful to have in the pantry for whenever you need inspiration.

  2. I for one am grateful for all the Acorn Squash recipes because those suckers are popular in Ohio and apparently my basement. :)

    MY brother in law makes a great cold salad with bulgar. This reminds me it in a way, although your bowl or casserole dish is really much better. Gorgeous pottery.

    1. Meghan,
      Your basement and mine, my friend! Thanks!