Sweet & Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

Introduction: Sweet & Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

About: I am a 80-year-old self-proclaimed Chef who has spent most of his life in the hotel/resort tourism industry. I have traveled up and down the east coast of the United States from New York to Key West, and fro...

No side dishes or dessert needed here! All of the main food groups are included in the creation of this baked stuffed acorn squash. Carbs, protein, butter and cheese (milk and dairy), fruit, vegetables, fats and sugars are all represented in this one entree.

Step 1: INGREDIENTS (1 Serving)

  1. *1 Acorn Squash, split in half, seeds removed
  2. 1 TBS unsalted butter
  3. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I use garlic powder with parsley)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground sage, divided
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt (I prefer Diamond Crystal Salt Sense due to its low sodium content)
  6. 1 link (4 ounces) Italian pork sausage per person (per 1/2 squash) - I prefer hot Italian sausage.
  7. 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  8. 1/2 Granny Smith green apple, cored and chopped (skin on)
  9. 1/4 cup dried cranberries, reconstituted (soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes, drained and chopped)
  10. 1/4 cup Panko seasoned breadcrumbs
  11. S&P to taste
  12. 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  13. 1 TBS EVOO
  14. 2 teaspoons mined fresh Cilantro (or parsley)
  15. 1 or 2 TBS of shredded Parmensan Cheese for topping

Please note: The quantities of the ingredients shown are here are what is needed to stuff and roast 1/2 of Acorn Squash; just double them for 2 halves, etc., etc., etc. (And actually the amount of stuffing made with this recipe was almost enough to fill two halves).

*Wash the acorn squash, then split it from the pointy end to the stem end using a heavy sharp knife. Scoop out and discard the seeds and any stringy material (I find that as kitchen tablespoon works fine here). If necessary - and to enable the squash halves to sit flat or level in a pan, carefully trim off a little piece of the bottom skin (do not cut into the squash flesh if you do this)!

Step 2: PREPARATIONS (Step One):

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Prep all of the ingredients and set them aside to be used as needed:

  1. Melt the 1 TBS of unsalted butter in a small glass container.
  2. Measure out and chop the reconstituted dried cranberries.
  3. Core and chop 1/2 apple.
  4. Chop 1/4 red onion.
  5. Measure out 1/4 cup breadcrumbs.
  6. If using linked sausage, remove and dispose the casing.
  7. Chop the Cilantro or parsley.
  8. Mix together 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground sage & 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Prep the Squash:

  1. Mix the spices and herbs (item 8) into the melted butter and brush the mixture all over the cavity and surfaces of the Acorn Squash.
  2. Place the squash cut side up into a suitably sized baking pan or dish and add enough hot water to the pan to bring it up the outside of the squash (about an inch of water). (You might have to slice off a bit of the bottom of the squash so that it will sit level in the pan, but be careful not to cut through the bottom of the squash and into the flesh).
  3. Bake for about 1 hour. The squash should remain tender, but firm enough to hold its shape.
  4. Remove squash from oven and let it cool enough to be handled.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the stuffing (see Preparation, Step Two)

Step 3: PREPARATION (Step Two):

Add the 1 TBS of EVOO (almost any cooking oil will do) to a heavy cast iron skillet or a non-stick frying pan.

When the oil becomes hot (shimmering, but not smoking) add the sausage, break it up (I use my trusty old potato masher for this process) , and stir fry until the meat is lightly browned all over. Remove the sausage and place it in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Retain the pan and drippings.

Add the chopped onion to the same pan (with the drippings) and sautee until the onion is softened and mostly translucent, then stir in the chopped apple and cranberries and sautee for about two minutes more.

Remove the pan from heat; add the mixture of onions, apples and cranberries to the bowl with the sausage.

Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of ground sage; mix, taste, add more S&P if needed.

Stir in the beaten egg and chopped Cilantro (or parsley). Mix thoroughly.

Step 4: PREPARATION (Step Three)

Place the squash half(s) into a baking dish or pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Stuff the acorn squash with the stuffing mixture. Fill the squash cavity, pressing the stuffing down with your hand, and top off the cavity with any excess that will fit on the top (sort of like an icecream cone). It's OK if excess stuffing falls to the bottom of the dish; it will become a nice, brown, crispy snack!

Bake *covered in the preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until the egg has set.

Remove from the oven when done, and garnish with the chopped cilantro (and a TBS or two of shredded Parmesan Cheese).

*NOTE: If your baking dish or pan does not have a cover, cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Step 5: TIME TO EAT . . .

This is a great dish - especially for a cold winter night. Although I live in SW central Florida, we have had several nights now when the temperature droped below freezing and the heated oven helps to warm the house. The wine being served here is Barefoot's California Cabernet Sauvignon, and the flowers (believe it or not) are bloooming stalks of Cilantro snipped from my herb garden (apparently Cilantro does not freeze).

Bon appétit

Step 6: NUTRITION

I have estimated the nutritional value of this recipe to the best of my ability using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Analyzer. (Wine and flowers not included).

The calorie count seems a bit high to me, but that is probably because of the excess stuffing I made; however, since I ate it, I can't complain!

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