As tempting as it might be to make big ,filling meals all of the time like meatloaf, fried chicken, burgers and the like, sometimes you need something a bit more on a little bit lighter for dinner. Dinners like warm chicken salad or other refreshing salads seem to go well with warmer weather and the summer and fall weather is a great opportunity to not only do things with soups but also with all of the great winter squash that is available. A lot of the squash you find can serve as a great vehicle not only as the vegetable of your dish but also as part of the serving and presentation. My favorite thing is to try to do this with acorn squash. You can get them at just the right size so that when they are halved they make a great serving bowl all of their own that you can eat practically all the way through. Naturally, you want to be able to fill the squash with some great ingredients and I took a cue from this recipe at The Pretend Baker and took the opportunity to not only use some of her ingredients but add my own and use up some of the leftover wild rice we had from a previous meal.
Apple, Sausage and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 medium acorn squashes
2 tablespoons butter, plus more if necessary
1 pound pork sausage, casings removed
1 large sweet onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
¾ cup shredded white cheddar, mozzarella or Gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squashes in half, remove the seeds and place the squash halves on a baking dish, cut side down, and roast them for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the squash from the oven, turn the temperature down to 375 degrees, flip the squash over and allow them to cool until you are able to handle them.
Meanwhile, heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and cook the sausage until it is browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet along with the minced onion, celery and chopped apple. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the apple is soft about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and minced herbs and saute for about 30 seconds until they are fragrant.
Remove the onion and garlic mixture to another plate or bowl.
Add the remaining butter to the skillet and return the onion/apple mixture to the skillet along with cooked sausage and all the accumulated juices.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out most of the flesh, leaving some in the skin for sturdiness.
Add the squash flesh to the pan and stir until well incorporated. Add the wild rice to the pan and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Mix in the beaten egg and fill squash halves. You may have leftover filling – just add it to an oven safe dish.
Top the squash with shredded cheese, return the squash halves to the oven on the same baking sheet and bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and brown.
Let the squash stand for 10 minutes before serving.
The blend of flavors and spices here make the kitchen smell great and you end up with a really nice meal all in one package. I loved the mix of the sausage, apple, squash and wild rice together. It was very hearty, warming and filling. While I didn’t top mine with cheese, Michelle and Sean both had cheese on theirs and said it was delicious. The great thing about this meal is that you can leave out the sausage entirely if you want to make this a vegetarian dish. You could also substitute in just about any grain that might you like instead of wild rice – brown rice, barley, quinoa, for example – and still have a wonderful meal. The leftovers are great for lunches as well as they are already nicely portioned out and if you have any stuffing leftover after filling the squash it makes a great side dish for chicken, turkey or even a pork dish.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!