Do you miss eating chicken enchiladas? After all, a plate containing two or three in a Mexican restaurant can have upwards of 900 calories, 50g fat, and 1,200mg sodium. Yikes! What if, instead, you tried making chicken enchilada-stuffed acorn squash at home? The customary tortillas have been replaced by squash, but all of the spicy enchilada flavors are still there.
Are you a fan of recipes you can partially make ahead of time? This Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Acorn Squash will work. Cook the squash and make the sauce on a Sunday, then put them together for a quick Monday dinner after a long work day. (And Mondays are always long work days, aren’t they?) If you don’t want to be bothered to cook chicken, grab a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.
Make Your Own Sauce
The recipe below uses enchilada sauce from a can, which can be high in fat and sodium and may contain gluten. Read the label carefully. For a healthier enchilada sauce, make your own. Here’s one from The Lean Green Bean that looks interesting and another from Gluten Free on a Shoestring that’s, well, gluten-free. There’s also a version from Eating Rules that uses no processed ingredients. Let me know if you find one you like.
- 2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 small or ½ large fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper or Hot Shot (combination of black pepper and cayenne)
- 1 (15 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican-blend cheese
- Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
- fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place acorn squash halves, flesh side up, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour enough water in the dish to barely cover the bottom. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Cool.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften and look translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and pepper and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Add enchilada sauce and chicken to saucepan. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Mix about ⅓ of the cheese into the chicken mixture. Divide the chicken mixture among the squash halves and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese has melted.
- Garnish with Greek yogurt or sour cream and cilantro, if desired.
Watching sodium? Skip the added kosher salt, cut back on the cheese, and/or make your own low-sodium enchilada sauce.
Watching fat? Use a lower-fat cheese or cut back on the amount you use, look for a lower-fat enchilada sauce (or make your own), and/or use a little bit less olive oil.
(1) Cook the squash in the microwave, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes instead of baking it in the oven.
(2) Cook squash the day before and refrigerate overnight (unstuffed).
(3) If you don’t have any leftover cooked chicken, use rotisserie chicken or cook some the day before.
(4) Make the sauce the day before (minus the chicken), then add the chicken and reheat the sauce before stuffing the squash.
Nutritional information does not include optional ingredients.