Most of us here on the east coast, even those of us who didn’t suffer from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, are more than ready for comfort food. The temperatures have dipped, the wind is gusting, cozy slipper weather is here. I found a dish on The Lemon Bowl blog that’s a little different than the usual meat, pasta or potato version of comfort: acorn squash stuffed with a mixture of Italian sausage, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.
I bought two squash thinking we would have two halves each. Well, that was silly, and not at all what the recipe said, if I had bothered to read it carefully. I made four halves, but we only ate one each for dinner and had the other two later in the week. I served green beans and a brown rice mix on the side.
Even though I overfilled the squash cavities, I still had filling left over. Strangely enough, it disappeared from the refrigerator some time during the next day. I guess somebody really liked it.
I will make this again. You can get creative with the filling ingredients. We loved the combination of Italian sausage and eggplant, but I can imagine all kinds of substitutions.
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
You’ll need a glass microwaveable and oven-safe baking dish for the squash (or another dish that’s safe for one or the other) and a large deep skillet.
- 2 acorn squash
- Olive oil
- 1-1/2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 pound Italian turkey or pork sausage (sweet or hot, bulk or casing)
- 4 cups eggplant, diced (about 1/2 large eggplant)
- One 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup some panko breadcrumbs
- 1 thin sliver of butter or drizzle of olive oil for each squash cup
Cut each squash horizontally to form two cups. Shave off the bottom of each “cup” to create a flat surface. Scoop out the seeds. If you’re like me, you toss the seeds with olive oil, salt and spices and roast them later.
Place squash pieces in a glass container with 1/2 inch of water, face down, and microwave until tender. The original recipe said it would take 6-8 minutes, but mine took about twice that, probably because I had more than one in there.
Meanwhile, heat up the olive oil and sauté the onion in a skillet over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and dried herbs (basil, thyme and rosemary) and cook for an additional 60 seconds. If you’re using fresh herbs, add them later with the eggplant and tomatoes.
Add the sausage from its casing to the pan. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to it up sausage into bite sized pieces. Brown the sausage for 4-5 minutes, continually breaking it up with the spoon. Add the eggplant and tomatoes (and fresh herbs, if using) plus a pinch of salt and pepper to release juices. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the juices cook down, about 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, turn the oven to broil and place the squash cups in a glass baking dish. Fill both cups, I mean, overfill them, with equal parts sausage stuffing. Mix together the parmesan and breadcrumbs. Top each squash with 2 tablespoons of the cheese/crumb topping and a drizzle of olive oil or sliver of butter. Broil for 2 minutes or until the topping is browned.
Original recipe: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, The Lemon Bowl