Do you remember a month ago when you were so excited for the turkey and the stuffing and all the fixings? Do you remember how amazing it was? Do you remember the turkey sandwiches and turkey soup and turkey tetrazzini that followed? And the subsequent creeping feeling about 3 weeks ago that maybe you had had enough turkey and that just one more bite would end in a certain thin mint–like catastrophe? I felt your pain, really, I did. But a few weeks have passed now and I think it’s time to revisit thanksgiving dinner, since it really does embody all the delicious flavors of fall and winter. Please don’t be frightened though, I won’t make you eat turkey.
If I’m gonna be honest, this recipe started as a desire to stuff…something. I just wanted to pile some goodness, probably involving pork of some description, into something else, probably from the vegetable family, and roast it. Acorn squash seemed right for the season and except for the squash, which I purchased, everything else was in my pantry already. What I ended up with were all the flavors of fall crammed into neat little edible packages; so much fun. Pretty to look at, and delicious too.
Really, this is one of those recipes that you can adapt to use anything you have on hand. I had some italian sausage in the freezer, some good apples, and some dried cherries. Onion, garlic, sage, pecans, parmesan, and bread crumbs rounded it all out and the innards from a couple acorn squash bound it all together. You could use any meat you have on hand or leave it out all together and replace it with sauteed mushrooms. You could use raisins in place of the cherries or pears in place of the apples; fontina in place of the parmesan or rosemary in place of the sage. Really, the options are endless; just put together some flavors that call to you. I’ll give Stella some credit for this recipe since she was oh-so-helpful that day. She’s really talented at certain things like helping me take pictures and helping me make the bed. Really, never in the way at all.
These are great individually-portioned meals. Guess what I used them for? Yup, lunch. They keep well and they reheat well. Once you’ve gotten over the thanksgiving glut and are once again craving the warm flavors of the season, give this a shot; it’s the perfect amount of thanksgiving minus the tryptophan coma.
Sausage and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash
By me. Serves 4.
It’s possible that I forgot to weigh my sausages. I used 3 large links, which I’m estimating to be between 8 and 12 oz, total. Really, it’s not important. Just use what you have. If you want healthier, use turkey (gasp!) or chicken sausage and lay off the cheeeeezeeee.
2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
8-12 oz raw italian sausage (sweet or hot), casing removed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium apples, chopped (I used 1 granny smith and 1 macintosh [ew])
1/4 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped sage
salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 400ºF. Place squash halves, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet
- Roast for 40-50 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork
- Meanwhile, saute the sausage in a dry pan over medium heat until cooked through. Move to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside
- Pour off most of the sausage grease (leave a little!) and replace the pan over medium heat
- Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease until soft and translucent
- Add the apples and cook until just tender, but not falling apart (just a couple minutes)
- In a medium bowl, combine the onion mixture, reserved sausage, cherries, and pecans
- When the squash are done roasting, scoop out the flesh, leaving 1/4″ thick shells intact. Turn oven down to 350°F
- Add the squash to the sausage mixture and combine gently
- Mix in the bread crumbs, parmesan and sage. Season to taste
- Divide the filling evenly, mound in the squash shells and bake 20-30 minutes or until hot and browned on top