Fall is truly my favorite time of year and I get so excited when I start to see winter squash appear at the market. It means cooler weather is coming and delicious autumn meals are on their way.
I have to admit, I love squash of all kinds. I love to roast them, puree them into soups, add them to salads, anything else you can think. I really cannot think of a squash, winter or summer, that I do not love. For this recipe I chose to go with the acorn squash. It has a deep crevice that can fit a decent portion of stuffing, and overall it just looks and tastes like fall to me.
What is acorn squash:
Acorn squash is a winter squash with distinctive green and orange ridges and a sweet, yellow flesh. While it is considered a winder squash, it is from the same species as all summer squashes. It is milder and more fibrous than its relative the butternut squash. It is one of the most perishable of the winter squashes, lasting only a few weeks in storage.
How to cut and clean your acorn squash:
- Find a ridge that runs along the squash horizontally.
- With a sharp knife, carefully pierce the ridge and insert your knife.
- Laying the squash down on your cutting board and while using a towel, push down on the blade until it slices down the side of the knife.
- Following the same ridge, do the same thing on the other side of the squash. If the squash struggles to open up, gently knock it on the counter and use the knife to pry it open.
- One split in two pieces, use a spoon to scope out the seeds.
Is it really about the squash…
Acorn squash makes a perfect vehicle for the real star of the show here, which is the stuffing. Complex in it’s depth and ingredients, it comes together in a perfect marriage of flavors. I found it hard not to just eat the stuffing straight out of the pot. But I am sure glad I didn’t because when added to the tender and sweet roasted acorn squash you really have perfection in every bite.
I went with your common Long Grain and Wild Rice quick cook rice mixture option that you can find in your local grocery store. Some come with their own seasoning packets which can be used to boost the flavors in this dish. But then everything you add to this mixture really brings it to life.
The sweet and tart cranberries compliment the salty Italian sausage, while the sage really brings the fall flavors to a whole new level. Ideal as a side dish or even a main course, this versatile meal can be used so many different ways. And don’t be afraid to exclude the Italian sausage for a perfect vegetarian option.
- 2 acorn squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 16 oz Italian sausage
- 2 cups fresh kale
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- ½ tsp fresh sage chopped
- 2 cups prepared long grain and wild rice
- Preheat oven o 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise and using a spoon scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush the cut side with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place them cut side down on your baking sheet and cook until tender, roughly 25 minutes. Once cooked remove them from the oven, turn them over but keep them on the same baking sheet and set them aside. Keep your oven at 400 degrees F.
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Once to temp add your sausage and cook thoroughly while breaking the sausage up into smaller pieces. Spoon out the sausage onto a plate and set aside. Add your unsalted butter to the same pot and cook until melted. Then add in your chopped onion and carrots and cook until slightly tender. Add your dried cranberries and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Once the carrots and onions are tender and the cranberries are soft add back in your sausage and your prepared long grain and wild rice and combine. Mix in your kale, sage and salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat on your pot and let your sausage and rice mixture cool slightly. Then with a spoon, start stuffing your acorn squash with your filling mixture. Place the stuffed squash back into the 400 degree oven for another 20 minutes until the squash is fully tender and the stuffing is golden brown on top.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy!