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Acorn Squash with Veggie Meatball Feature

Vegetarian Kofta Stuffed Acorn Squash with Masala Sauce

Tamara Andersen
Vegetarian Kofta Stuffed Acorn Squash with Masala Sauce brings Indian herbs and spices - chaat masala, cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, and cilantro - to a pumpkin, chick pea, poha based "meatball" or "kofta." That lovely kofta stuffs half an acorn squash, and gets generously covered with a masala curry sauce!
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Course Vegetarian Main Dish
Cuisine Indian/Eclectic
Servings 4


Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squash
  • olive oil
  • sea salt/fresh ground pepper

Kofta Mixture

  • ½ onion pureed and pressed (see notes)
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas ground (texture of crumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (see notes)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (see notes)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chaat masala (see notes)
  • 1 cup poha, thick substitute quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour as needed


  • 2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger/garlic minced
  • 1 onion pureed and pressed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk (see notes)
  • ¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds processed until finely ground
  • sea salt/fresh ground pepper season to taste


Acorn Squash

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 convection). Carefully slice off both stem and blossom ends of your squash. Slice the remaining piece into rounds from 1 ½" to 3" - that may be 2 or 3 pieces. (see notes) 
  • Place on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the center of your preheated oven for 15 minutes while you make the kofta filling.


  • To a large prep bowl: Add the pureed and pressed onion, coarsely ground chick peas, minced ginger and garlic, and pumpkin.
  • Pulse the cilantro leaves and slivered almonds to a mince (not a paste). Add to the prep bowl.
  • Add the remaining kofta ingredients to the bowl, then get your hands in there, and mix well! The flour is a binder, and the amount used will depend on the moisture content of your mixture. You'll probably need ½-1 cup to achieve a meatball that keeps its shape.
  • Form a generous kofta/meatball for each squash, and place in the center of each one. Brush lightly with olive oil, and return pan to the oven. Roast them for 25-30 additional minutes until the squash is tender, and the stuffing resists when pierced. While the stuffed squash roast, make the sauce

Masala Sauce

  • Puree the garlic, ginger, and onion, then press through a sieve to remove moisture. Add to the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne (if using). Stir until the spices are fragrant, being careful to not burn them.
  • Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and simmer until ready to serve.

To Serve

  • Plate a stuffed squash. Ladle a generous amount of the masala sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. Enjoy!


2 acorn squash will make 4 very generous portions. If you have really large ones, you may cut each one into 3 slices. If so, reserve the extra for another meal, or make 1 ½ recipes of kofta mixture - leftovers are awesome!
If using fresh pumpkin, it must be cooked and puréed prior to using. I typically roast my pumpkin, but you can boil it, or cook it in the pressure cooker. Press visible liquid from the purée.
When I'm processing a large quantity of cilantro, I give it a good rinse, press it dry between towels, and then cut at the base of the leaves. Having some stems in the processor is fine.
"Lite coconut milk" is the milk from the coconut in a can, not the non-dairy milk replacement. Use full fat coconut milk if you prefer.
I strongly recommend doubling this recipe and freezing half for another meal. You can save it to fill squash again, or use it in another dish (patties for a sandwich, meatballs for a soup, etc.).
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 491 calories; 13 g protein; 62 g carbohydrates; 19 g fat.
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