Fall Foods Recipe #6: Stuffed Acorn Squash

My love’s father gave us a humongous Acorn Squash the he grew in his garden this year. Let me tell you, this was not love at first sight for me. For some reason, I’ve always walked deliberately in the opposite direction of this popular squash. Is it the namesake? Or the dark, forest green color?  The shape that makes the thought of trying to cut into it giving me anxiety already? I don’t know… I just never wanted to eat it, buy it, or touch it. And it’s funny because I love butternut squash!

Whatever the reason, I now had to get over it fast as I wouldn’t want to upset his father by refusing it. And I’m sure he’s going to ask what I made with it the next time I see him!

My trusty internet research brought me to a savory version that was sure to get us both eating such a traditional Fall food. Isn’t that the point of this food blog anyway? Check it out:

Doesn’t it look good?!?!

Here’s the breakdown: I roasted the squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt & pepper at 375 degrees, for about 35 minutes. While that was roasting, I was sauteing red onions & garlic in a tomato paste mixture on the stove, eventually adding in sausage, white beans, and spinach (leftover from the night before). After taking the squash out of the oven, I scooped the stuffing into the “cradle” I made inside the squash (before roasting) and topped it off with a Parmesean-bread crumb-olive oil mixture. I switched the oven to “broil” and put the squash back in for a couple of minutes to brown.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash, halved (see Tip) and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 sausage link (your choice of spice & meat!), diced in small bites.
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut a small slice off the bottom of each squash half so it rests flat. Brush the insides with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a 9-by-13-inch (or similar-size) baking dish and put in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. You can check it at 30 minutes by poking it with a fork for a tender center.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in water, tomato paste and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add in sausage and cook until brown if fresh, or thawed if frozen. Stir in spinach, cover and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in white beans, cooking until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Remove from the heat.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat broiler.

Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Fill each squash half with about 1 cup of the stuffing mixture. Place back in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Broil in the center of the oven until the breadcrumbs are browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Tip:  To make it easier to cut a pumpkin, acorn squash or other winter squash: pierce in several places with a fork; microwave on High for 45 to 60 seconds. Use a large sharp knife to cut in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a spoon. For this dish in particular, I scooped out enough to make a bowl so I could add more stuffing and have it stay in there.

Adapted from here.

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