I didn’t grow up eating winter squash. The first time I tried it was on a whim in the hospital after having our second baby. I looked at it, sniffed it, tried it, and thought I probably wouldn’t have that again!
However, I now get so excited to have a little of the different varieties available from our local farm markets. Butternut and acorn are the favorites here, and I especially love cooking acorn squash with a sweet and savory mixture, topped with butter and maple syrup. If you think you don’t like winter squash, this recipe might convince you to try it! When I eat it, I feel like it’s Autumn on a Spoon!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 4-6 acorn squash
- With a sharp knife, cut the squash in half through the stem end and pointed tip. Scoop out seeds and pulp into a large bowl. Set seeds aside.
- Place squash on a large cookie sheet with the cavities up. If any of the squash are too wobbly, cut a flat spot on the underside. Sprinkle salt on the squash.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. While squash bakes, prepare filling.
For the filling:
- 3 c. cooked brown rice (preferably cooked in broth, or a broth/water mixture)
- 1 lb. bulk pork sausage (our family likes the “country” variety from a nearby meat mart)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium apple or pear, diced
- 1/4 c. dried cranberries
- 1/4 c. sunflower seeds (walnuts, almonds, or pecans would also be tasty)
- 1 T. loosely packed, dried rubbed sage (not powdered; if using powdered, reduce to 1 t.)
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. dried mustard
- 1/2 t. dried ginger powder
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- Cook sausage with onion in a large skillet until crumbly and cooked through. Do not drain. If your sausage came from a healthy, pastured pig, that fat is very good for you!
- Stir in remaining ingredients and heat through over medium low heat until very warm and thoroughly mixed.
Stuff the squash:
- After the squash have baked for 30 minutes, remove from oven. With an ice cream scoop or small measuring cup, scoop filling into squash cavities. Heap it in so that there is plenty of filling for each squash, being careful not to burn your fingers on the hot squash.
- If any additional filling is left, keep it warm in the skillet. The above recipe makes enough filling for about six squash, equaling twelve servings.
- Bake for an additional 30 minutes so that the squash is tender. This crisps the rice on the top of the filling. We like the crunch, but if you want your rice to stay soft, cover the stuffed squash loosely with foil, or bake in pans with fitted lids.
- Top each squash half with a pat of butter and a drizzling of honey or maple syrup, and enjoy by scooping out a bit of squash with each bite of filling.
Yum! A very economical, seasonal, and nutritious meal for the family. I like this paired with biscuits, cornbread, or our staple sourdough bread.
But wait! What about those seeds, you say! Don’t worry, dear readers, I didn’t forget. Here’s a bonus recipe for you! We are all familiar with roasted pumpkin seeds during October, but did you know that all winter squash have delicious seeds? In fact, I’ve found that some of the other winter squash varieties have seeds much tastier than pumpkin. Try this simple procedure for making a tasty snack that has lots of crunch.
Roasted Squash Seeds
- Take a bowl filled with winter squash seeds and pulp, sprinkle with about 1 t. salt, and fill the bowl with filtered water until the seeds are covered. Leave them soak overnight, or for about 8-12 hours. Why soak nuts and seeds? Read here. It’s all about enhancing nutrition.
- Dump the seeds and pulp into a colander or strainer. With your fingers, squeeze the seeds out of the pulp. This is delightfully slimey and squishy. Enlist the help of little hands! Compost the pulp, and place the seeds on a baking tray or oven-proof plate in a single layer. Don’t worry about little bits of pulp.
- Sprinkle the seeds with sea salt (I love Real Salt!), cinnamon and sugar, spices, or anything that your family prefers. I’ve made them with plain salt, a salt, cinnamon, and sugar combo, and seasoned some with chili powder.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes in an oven set at 350. If you have a dehydrator, you can do them in there, too. Enjoy!