Apple-and-Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash

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This time of year as the winds blow (and how they can blow) there is just something wonderful about putting together a baked dish that combines some of the best of the local foods available. In this favorite fall dish, the acorn squashes are sweet and plump. The garlic is just out of the ground as are the onions. The sage and parsley are still growing. And the mushrooms and sausage are being harvested right now.

This dish is special with its combination of colors. Served in the shell of the dark green acorn squash with its orange center, and the added sausage, green herbs and unpeeled red apples, this dish is not only beautiful, but tasty and savory as well. The prep time (about one hour) is well worth the effort.

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash (halved and seeded) *
  • 1 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced *
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh sage *
  • 1 lb. pork sausage (regular seasoning or hot for a spark) *
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion *
  • 1 finely chopped celery rib *
  • 4 oz. chopped oyster and/or shiitake mushrooms *
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped *
  • 1 cup coarse breadcrumbs * (Use purchased bread crumbs, or make your own from Mrs. London’s or Murray Hollow breads.)
  • ½ tsp. additional sage (if needed) *
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley *

Directions

1. Scrub the outside of the acorn squash, then halve and seed.

2. Melt butter and add garlic and sage. Brush the seasoned butter all over the edges and middle of the acorn squash and place it, cut side up, in a baking dish with 1½ inches of water in the bottom. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes. You want the meat to be just tender, but not softened through.

3. While the squash bakes, make the stuffing: Sauté sausage until light brown, remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess grease.

4. In the same pan with its coating of drippings remaining, add the onion, celery and mushroom. Sauté until all are translucent and warm (under 5 minutes). Stir in the apples and sauté a couple more minutes.

5. Thoroughly mix the sausage, vegetables, apples and breadcrumbs into a large bowl, with added add salt and pepper to taste. Add extra sage only if needed (Pork sausage usually has enough spice.) Stir in the egg and parsley.

6. When acorn squash is done, remove from oven and stuff with the sausage mixture. Don’t be afraid to heap it in on.

7. Return to the pan to bake for another 20 or 30 minutes. The egg should be set and the top slightly brown.

8. Serve immediately. Garnish with grated fresh Parmesan or similar cheese of choice, if desired.

Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.