This tastes like a meatball sub but we’re roasting up some sweet, creamy winter squash to serve as our vessel for meatballs, marinara, and cheese. The meatballs and squash get baked on the same sheet pan, then you scoop out some of the squash flesh and mix it with marinara for a saucy filling to nestle the meatballs into. It’s such a comforting fall dinner!

Ingredient highlight

Winter squash! These dense, sweet, creamy root veggies are a great source of carotenoids (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium. They are a really nourishing food for athletes and runners because they contain electrolytes, are a great source of complex carbohydrates and immune-boosting vitamins.

P.S. Choose squash that feels firm with no soft spots and feels heavy for the size.

Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 2 medium/large delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out*
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ½ cups marinara, divided
  • ¼ cup milk**
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Chopped parsley or basil, for topping

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground pork***
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • *My squash weighed about 1.5 lbs each.
  • **I use whole milk, but any type of milk will work.
  • ***Pork will taste the best, but you could also use ground chicken/turkey.


  • Preheat the oven to 450F or 425F convection. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the squash on the baking sheet and drizzle the flesh with enough olive oil to lightly coat and sprinkle with salt. Rub the salt and oil all over the flesh and skin. Place cut-side-down on ½ of the baking sheet.
  • To make the meatballs, add all ingredients to a bowl and use your hands to mix thoroughly. Roll into 12 meatballs. Add the meatballs to the other half of the baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil, then roll them around to coat in the oil.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and browned on the bottoms. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Rearrange the squash so they are spaced evenly on the baking sheet. Reduce the oven to 400F and bake squash for 15-25 more minutes (depending on size) or until the inside flesh is cooked through and scoopable.
  • Flip the squash over. Let them cool for a bit so they’re easier to handle, if you’d like. Use a tablespoon to carefully scoop/shave out about 2 tablespoons worth of the flesh from each squash and transfer to a bowl (you end up with ½ cup worth). Stir in 1 cup marinara and milk until combined.
  • Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese into the cavity of each squash. Divide the marinara mixture between each squash, then nestle the meatballs into the mixture (three per squash). Spoon the remaining ½ cup marinara over top and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes or until heated through.
  • Serve topped with herbs. Dig in with a knife and fork!

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Mix and form the meatballs
  • Cut 2 medium/large delicata squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds
  • Bake the meatballs/squash
  • Follow the recipe and assemble the squash/meatballs so they are ready to bake/reheat in the oven 
  • Grate 2 cups mozzarella cheese


  • There are lots of ways you can make this vegetarian. Substitute the meatballs with a sliced vegetarian sausage or even blocks of tofu (toss in oil, salt, and seasonings and bake just like the meatballs). Replace meatballs with 2 cans of beans (toss the beans in oil, salt, and seasonings and bake just like the meatballs). You could also turn Greek White Bean Burgers or Sundried Tomato Lentil Burgers into balls or small patties to use in place of the meatballs. 
  • To make vegan, see above + use a vegan mozzarella alternative or leave the cheese out. Use an alternative milk in place of whole milk.
  • I have tested these with ground chicken which turned out fine, just a little more dry. I haven’t tried it with beef, but I think it would work.
  • You could also use acorn squash.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Warm up leftovers in the oven at 350F for about 20 minutes or pop them in the microwave until warmed through. It helps to cut them in half so they reheat evenly.
  • Serve with a simple side salad.

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