sausage and rice stuffed acorn squash

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One of the most rewarding things about composting the vegetable scraps of what we eat is seeing the volunteer plants sprout up the next season. Random seeds from squash, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes and melons go into our compost bin and stay happy and viable until the rich compost mixture gets forked into our soil the following spring.

This year we had heirloom tomatoes, butternut, and acorn squash thriving in our raised beds – none had been deliberately planted. We’ve enjoyed them so much, they’ve been added to our garden lineup for 2018.

This stuffed squash was so amazingly good, I fixed it two nights in a row! The squash was tender and sweet, which perfectly complemented the savory cheese and sausage. Sautéed onions, mushrooms, a little celery, diced apple, and a big handful of chopped parsley from the garden added to the complexity. I added some sage to the seasonings, so the meal reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I wanted to top the squash with grated mozzarella, but only had sliced provolone on hand. I loved the way the slivered cheese made for such a graphic look, and the provolone added a nice tang to the final dish.

Make ahead note – I added some precooked leftover rice which was great, but you could probably substitute fresh bread crumbs.

Acorn squash stuffed with sausage, cheese, apples, and herbs – makes four generous servings. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more if needed
  • Salt and pepper 
  • ½ pound pork sausage
  • ½ of a medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • ¼ pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tart apple, cored and diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup leftover cooked rice
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Grated mozzarella or provolone cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush melted butter on each squash half. Season with salt and pepper, and place cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake squash until tender, about 30 minutes. (Depending on the size of the squash, they might take longer to bake. They’re done if they’re soft.)

Meanwhile, brown the sausage and break it up as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. Drain sausage, reserving fat, and place cooked sausage in a mixing bowl.

In reserved fat over medium heat, sauté the onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms have released their liquid, and liquid has evaporated. Add garlic, and cook another two minutes. Add apple, and cook two more minutes. Put mixture in bowl with sausage.  

Stir together stuffing mixture with rice, Parmesan cheese, sage, and parsley. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Stuff cavities of squash with mixture and top with grated cheese. Bake squash until filling is piping hot and cheese topping has melted and has browned, about 25 minutes. Serve.