As the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and gold, and a chill fills the air, it's time to welcome the warmth and comfort of autumn into our homes. One of the best ways to do so is by indulging in hearty, seasonal dishes that celebrate the bounties of the harvest. In our kitchen today, we're bringing you a recipe that encapsulates the essence of fall: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash.
This dish is a symphony of flavors that perfectly captures the essence of the season. The tender, slightly sweet flesh of acorn squash is filled with a savory blend of Italian sausage, aromatic sage, and the delightful surprise of dried cranberries. It's a medley of sweet, savory, and earthy notes that will warm your heart and satisfy your taste buds.
- Will this recipe also work with spaghetti squash?
- How to Cut Acorn Squash
- Why you will love this recipe
- Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Ingredients
- How to make stuffed acorn squash
- What to serve with Acorn Squash
- Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Substitutions
- Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Variations
- Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Top tips
- Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
- Food safety
Will this recipe also work with spaghetti squash?
Absolutely! The recipe can be adapted for spaghetti squash, offering a different texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Spaghetti squash has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a unique texture that sets it apart from other squash varieties. When cooked, the flesh of the spaghetti squash transforms into thin, spaghetti-like strands, giving it the name "spaghetti squash."
How to Cut Acorn Squash
We're unraveling the mystery of cutting acorn squash in a simple, step-by-step guide that even kitchen novices can conquer.
- Gathering Your Tools: Before you embark on your acorn squash adventure, assemble your kitchen arsenal. A sharp chef's knife, a reliable cutting board, and a spoon or ice cream scoop are your trusty companions.
- Prep the Acorn Squash: Give your squash a good wash to bid farewell to any lingering dirt. With the squash securely placed on your cutting board, let the cutting commence.
- Cutting the Ends: Start by chopping off a small piece from one end of the squash. This not only creates a stable base but also signals the beginning of your squash conquest.
- Halving the Squash: With your acorn squash standing tall, slice down the middle from top to bottom using a confident, rocking motion with your knife. Voila! You now have two halves ready for the next step.
- Removing Seeds: Grab a spoon or an ice cream scoop to excavate the seeds and stringy bits from each squash half. It's like performing surgery, but with tastier results!
Why you will love this recipe
- 1. Bursting with Fall Flavors: This recipe is a celebration of autumn on a plate. The combination of seasonal ingredients like acorn squash, sage, and cranberries brings the warm and comforting essence of fall to every bite.
- 2. Perfect Harmony of Sweet and Savory: Experience the delightful dance of flavors as the sweetness of dried cranberries meets the savory kick of Italian sausage. It's a culinary tango that will have your taste buds singing with joy.
- 3. Simple Elegance, Impressive Results: While the dish may sound fancy, the preparation is surprisingly straightforward. Impress your guests with a visually stunning and delectable meal that's easier to make than it looks.
- 4. Versatile and Customizable: Make it your own! Adjust the spice level of the sausage, play with herbs, or add a sprinkle of your favorite cheese. This recipe is a canvas for your culinary creativity.
- 5. A Hearty and Satisfying Meal: Whether you're hosting a festive gathering or enjoying a cozy family dinner, this stuffed acorn squash delivers a hearty and satisfying meal that fills your home with the aroma of fall comfort.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Acorn squash
- Italian sausage
- Dried cranberries
- Olive oil
- Sage leaf
- Chicken broth
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make stuffed acorn squash
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Cut the acorn squash in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim a small slice off the bottom of each half to ensure they sit flat. Brush the cut sides of the squash halves with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place the squash halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is tender but not overly soft.While the squash is baking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula, until it's browned and cooked through.
Add the chopped onions to the skillet with the sausage. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the dried cranberries, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and let it simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is moist but not overly wet.
Once the acorn squash halves are done baking, remove them from the oven and turn them cut side up. Fill each squash half with the sausage and cranberry stuffing mixture. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the squash is tender, the stuffing is heated through, and the tops are nicely browned. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve hot. If you want, feel free to top this with my homemade cranberry sauce.
Hint: Be cautious when cutting the squash. A stable base and a sharp knife will make the process safer and more manageable.
What to serve with Acorn Squash
- Spinach and Pear Salad: A light spinach and pear salad with goat cheese and a balsamic dressing brings freshness and vibrancy to the plate.
- Roasted Root Vegetables: Mix it up with a side of roasted root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes for a rustic touch.
- Garlic-Herb Mashed Potatoes: Creamy garlic-herb mashed potatoes offer a classic and comforting pairing with the flavorful acorn squash.
- Pecan-Crusted Pork Chops: - Juicy pecan-crusted pork chops bring a delightful crunch and savory flavor to the meal.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Substitutions
- Sausage: Substitute the Italian sausage with ground turkey, chicken, or plant-based alternatives for a lighter or vegetarian option. Experiment with different sausage flavors like apple or maple for a unique twist.
- Dried Cranberries: If dried cranberries are not your thing, try using raisins, chopped dried apricots, or even pomegranate arils for a burst of sweetness.
- Acorn Squash: Any winter squash can take the stage here. Butternut squash, delicata, or even sweet potatoes can be excellent alternatives.
- Sage: If fresh sage is elusive, dried sage works well. You can also experiment with other herbs like thyme or rosemary for a different flavor profile.
- Breadcrumbs: Swap regular breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs or crushed crackers if you're aiming for a gluten-free version.
- Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth is a great alternative to chicken broth, keeping the dish entirely vegetarian.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Variations
Cooking is a chance to be creative! Have fun with it and feel free to make your own variation.
- Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash:
- Cooked quinoa mixed with sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and spinach.
- Add your favorite herbs and spices for extra flavor.
- Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash:
- Combine cooked wild rice with dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- The sweet and savory combination is delightful.
- Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash:
- Browned sausage (vegetarian or meat-based) mixed with diced apples, breadcrumbs, and sage.
- A perfect blend of savory and sweet.
- Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash:
- Quinoa mixed with cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
- Mediterranean flavors for a refreshing twist.
- Mexican-inspired Stuffed Acorn Squash:
- Black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, and cilantro mixed with cooked rice.
- Add some taco seasoning for a spicy kick.
- Chef's Knife: A sharp chef's knife will be your primary tool for cutting the acorn squash and other ingredients.
- Cutting Board: Choose a sturdy cutting board to provide a stable surface for chopping and slicing.
- Spoon or Ice Cream Scoop: This tool will come in handy for scooping out the seeds and stringy bits from the acorn squash.
- Baking Sheet: Use a baking sheet to roast the acorn squash in the oven. Make sure it has a rim to catch any juices.
- Skillet or Pan: A skillet is essential for cooking the stuffing ingredients, whether it's sausage, vegetables, or a delicious medley.
- Mixing Bowl: You'll need a bowl for combining and mixing the stuffing ingredients before filling the acorn squash.
- Brush or Olive Oil Sprayer: To brush or spray olive oil on the acorn squash halves before roasting, ensuring a golden and flavorful result.
- Oven: Of course, an oven is essential for roasting the stuffed acorn squash to perfection.
- Cool Completely: Allow the stuffed acorn squash to cool completely before storing. Placing hot food in the refrigerator can raise its temperature and affect other items.
- Refrigeration: If you plan to consume the leftovers within a few days, refrigeration is the way to go. Place the stuffed acorn squash in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.
- Labeling: Consider labeling the container with the date to keep track of freshness. This is especially helpful if you have multiple dishes in your fridge.
- Freezing (Optional): If you want to store the stuffed acorn squash for a more extended period, freezing is an option. Wrap each stuffed squash individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place them in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container to prevent freezer burn.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe Top tips
- Selecting the Perfect Squash: Choose acorn squash with a deep color and a firm, heavy feel. This indicates ripeness and ensures a flavorful, tender result.
- Preparing for Easy Cutting: Soften the acorn squash slightly by microwaving it for a minute or two. This makes it easier to cut through the tough skin.
- Safe Cutting Technique: Be cautious when cutting the squash. A stable base and a sharp knife will make the process safer and more manageable.
- Flavorful Stuffing: Don't shy away from experimenting with the stuffing. Add your favorite herbs, spices, or nuts to customize the flavor to your liking.
- Even Cooking: Ensure the squash halves are similar in size for even cooking. This guarantees that they'll be perfectly tender at the same time.
- Brush with Love: When roasting, brush the cut sides of the acorn squash with olive oil or use an olive oil sprayer. This enhances the flavor and promotes a golden, caramelized exterior.
- Save Seeds for Roasting: Don't toss those seeds! Rinse them, toss with a bit of oil and salt, then roast for a tasty snack or salad topper.
- Individual Servings: If serving a crowd, consider using smaller acorn squashes for individual servings. It adds a charming touch to your presentation.
- Make-Ahead Friendly: Prepare the stuffing and even stuff the squash a day ahead. Store them in the refrigerator, and pop them in the oven when ready to serve.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove