anddddd just like that, our heat is on for the season.
I mean, I’m pretty sure it was seventy degrees just a week ago or something, right? But then last week it was so cold that we had to bust out our winter jackets and yes, the heat finally went on. Usually it’s a struggle to make it to November 1 (an Albano family
torture method tradition growing up), but this year it was a breeze! Heck, we even had our AC in the window until recently (….or maybe it’s still in the window and Peter & I both conveniently keep forgetting to remind the other to take it out).
But wait… does that mean it’s actually winter already?! Did we skip fall?? I think I’m having a senior moment… how the heck do we even define ‘fall weather’ in New England?? There is no consistency and I DON’T UNDERSTAND THESE DAMN SEASONS ANYMORE!!
Talia: 0. Global warming: 1.
Or maybe it’s really old age that’s the cause of my struggles over here…
Well regardless of what season Mother Nature thinks it is today, I’m 100% on board with cooking and baking for FALL right now — i.e., the BEST food season of all. Don’t even try to argue this one with me, friends! Is there even really an argument to be had? All of the apples! Squash of every shape, size and variety! Cranberries and brussels and persimmons, oh my! And of course, my personal favorite…. PUMPKIN
SPICE EVERYTHING! (!!!!)
All of this fall produce turns into the most wonderful treats in the kitchen — soups and roasted veggies and [apple cider] donuts and breads and pies. It’s the beautiful start of comfort food season and the flavors of fall literally make my heart — or um, stomach — sing! It doesn’t even matter what I have on my grocery list each week — there is 100% chance that I come home with at least two types of squash PLUS a pumpkin for roasting.
Today’s squash of choice is acorn — shaped like (you guessed it) an acorn, with ribbed green & orange skin and sweet yellow-orange flesh inside. If you’ve never eaten acorn squash before, I HIGHLY recommend that you start with this recipe (or maybe this one, because it’s sweet and spicy and so damn easy to make)!
We’re going to take one of my favorite fall veggies (acorn squash) and stuff it with my favorite fall fruit (apples, duh)… plus a bunch of other delicious things. It’s HUGE in flavor and honestly not all that hard — and also gives me yet another reason to turn on my oven instead of turning up the heat!
At first glance, acorn squash may seem intimidating to cut – but I promise it’s not as difficult as it looks. Yes, I’ll admit that it can be painstaking and time-consuming when you have to slice and dice the whole damn thing, but hey – let’s just keep it easy today, shall we?! We’ll cut this squash in half and call it day.
Step one: slice your squash in half, end to end, being mindful of the stem. Depending on the size, it can be hard as a rock and cause your knife to go a little out of control (see also: user error).
Step two: scrape out the seeds. But rather than tossing directly in the garbage, might I suggest you roast them to enjoy as a snack lately? I know you’re busy people, so I won’t try and twist your arm (but seriously, so worth the time!).
Step three: slice a notch off the bottom (see photo above). We’re going to be creating a ‘stuffing’ for the squash, so we want the squash halves to stand upright on their own.
Doesn’t seem all that hard, right?!
At the very least, the easy(er) part comes next — brush the inside of each half with a sage/garlic/butter mixture (drool) and then roast the squash halves for
what seems like an eternity fifty or sixty minutes, until tender. In the meantime, you can prepare the ‘stuffing’ which will then be divided between the four halves and baked for another fifteen minutes or so.
The end result is a dish that looks fancy and tastes fancy, but requires only a little bit of effort in the kitchen. This is one of my favorite go-to fall recipes and I URGE you guys to try it out. And bonus – it makes great leftovers :)
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon dried sage, divided
- 1 large (or 2 small) clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb sausage links (meat removed from casings) or ground pork/beef
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 4 oz mushrooms, diced
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (see Notes for GF suggestions)
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded (see Notes for DF suggestions)
- 1 egg, beaten
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice acorn squash in half, end to end (carefully, as the stem is very hard!) and remove the seeds - though I suggest saving them to roast! I also like to slice a notch off the bottom so that the squash stands upright on its own (see photo in post above for example).
- Combine melted butter, garlic and ½ teaspoon of sage in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush (or spoon... or your fingers, if you're desperate), brush all over the cut side of the squash.
- Bake 50-60 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
- While the squash are baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown your meat (roughly 5-10 min) and then remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Add the onion, celery, apple and mushrooms back into the skillet (no additional oil should be needed) and saute for about 5 minutes, until soft.
- Return meat to skillet. Remove from heat and add in the other ½ teaspoon of sage, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add in panko and cheddar cheese, and mix well; add in egg and combine fully.
- Divide mixture evenly between the four halves of acorn squash. Return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Also, I'm not a huge mushroom person (actually, I despise them), but find that I can't really pick out their flavor or texture too much - instead, I think they just add more depth to the recipe. Feel free to omit, but keep in mind that you may need to add some oil or other liquid (perhaps chicken stock) to the skillet when sauteing the apples, celery and onions, since the mushrooms would otherwise have been providing that liquid.
GLUTEN FREE: use a GF brand of panko breadcrumbs - my favorite is Aleia's, which can be found at your local Stop & Shop or Whole Foods
DAIRY FREE: we always have Cabot cheese on hand, since it's naturally lactose-free
Recipe From: Prevention RD | Sausage and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Happy fall cooking, my friends!