Sunday, July 17, 2011

Acorn Squash With Sausage Stuffing

Bowls you can eat are always more fun than bowls you can't
I know what you're thinking. "Isn't acorn squash more of an autumn dish?" Well, let me tell you something - I'm a rebel. I don't let myself be constrained by the seasons. Strawberries in winter? Apples in the spring? Acorn squash in July? You bet. Someone, somewhere, is growing everything all the time. I know that eating local is all the rage these days, and it's a movement that I generally support, but I'm not going to let the fact that my acorn squash was grown in another hemisphere deter me from enjoying it.

Besides, I had some italian sausage that I needed to use, and I haven't done a sausage stuffing in a while. You could certainly use something else to hold the stuffing, but acorn squash has always been my favorite vehicle for this.

Nutritionally, acorn squash is similar to sweet potatoes. It's got carbohydrates, but it's not going to send you spiraling into a sugar coma. Eating the squash along with the sausage stuffing helps, because the protein, fat, and fiber in the stuffing will cause you to absorb the carbohydrates more slowly.

This is one of those times when the ingredients have started hanging off the cutting board.
It always makes me worry that the recipe is too complicated.


2 acorn squash
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1 small onion
2 cups mushrooms
1 lb italian sausage
1/2 cup pecans
2 cups cauliflower rice
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste


Baking Sheet
Aluminum Foil (recommended)
Large Bowl

Preheat your oven to 350.

Cut each acorn squash in half from stem to tip, and scoop the seeds from the middle.

People tell me you can clean the seeds and roast them for a snack. People tell me a lot of crazy stuff.

Place the halves cut side up on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Bake them for 30 minutes while you prepare the stuffing.

Pre-baking them makes sure that they get tender without burning the stuffing.

Chop the carrot, celery, and onion. You should aim to have roughly quarter inch cubes of each.

Fancy French cooking term for this: mirepoix

Cut the mushrooms into small pieces (just a little larger than the carrot, celery, and onion)

I used cremini mushrooms, but white button mushrooms are fine.

Place a pan over medium-high heat and add the sausage to it. If your sausage is in casings, remove it from the casings before adding it to the pan. Break up the sausage as it cooks.

I used mild italian sausage this time, but I think the hot kind is better.

When the sausage is browned, move it to a large bowl. Add the carrot, celery, and onion to the pan. Cook them until the celery and onion become translucent. (About five minutes)

You should be "sweating" the vegetables. That means if you see the onion start to turn brown, you need to lower the heat.

When the vegetables are done, move them to the bowl with the sausage. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook them for about five minutes, until they are soft and browned slightly. Move them to the bowl. Also add the cauliflower rice and pecans to the bowl.

In my old age, I forgot to take a picture of the mushrooms cooking,
so here's a picture of everything in the bowl instead.

Allow the contents of the bowl to cool for about two minutes. Then, scramble the egg in a small bowl and add it to the large bowl with the other ingredients. Add a little salt and pepper, and mix everything together.

When they have cooked for 30 minutes, remove the acorn squash from the oven and add the stuffing to the middle of each half. Lightly pack the stuffing in as you add it, and mound it above the top of the squash.

Turn your oven up to 425 and bake the stuffed squashes for 15-20 minutes. When they are done, you should be able to insert the tip of a knife into the meat of the squash with very little resistance.

The top of the stuffing will brown a little.

  • If you use the quantities in this recipe, you may be able to stuff three squashes instead of two. It kind of depends on the size of the squash and how high you mound the stuffing.
  • Using aluminum foil on the baking sheet isn't strictly necessary, but it makes cleaning up a lot easier.
  • I'd recommend using hot italian sausage for this recipe if you can. The mild kind is fine, but I think the hot kind would make things a little better.
  • If your halves won't sit with their cut sides upright, you can use a little aluminum foil to prop them up. Just make little aluminum foil donuts and sit the halves in the middle of them.

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