Today we’re preparing one of my Fall Favorites – Stuffed Acorn Squash. While today’s stuffed acorn squash can be a meal unto itself, alongside vegetable pasta, or even seared steaks, today’s recipe would be absolutely delicious.
Hardy, warming, and encompassing all of the quintessential flavors of the fall season, today’s recipe is sure to be the star of your autumn table.
Baking an Acorn Squash – Some Tips
1) Picking your Squash. You want an acorn squash that is roughly a 60-40 divide between deep green and light orange, or that roughly has the look of large ‘patches’ of orange set against a deep green backdrop. The colors should also be dull or muted, rather than shiny. Finally, the acorn should be quite firm to the touch, and heavy in the hand.
2) Leave the Skin. The skin in this case is basically the ‘bowl’ of today’s recipe. The skin holds the acorn in place during cooking, as well as during serving and eating. That said, the skin starts its life hard to the point of being ‘shell-like,’ and after baking it should be leathery. While it’s not meant to be eaten, it ‘is’ technically edible, just not palatable. That said, leave the skin in place. Removing the skin at any point during this recipe process will result in a mess.
3) Dry Baking vs Water Bath Baking. Neither method is inherently ‘better’ than the other, instead they are used to achieve different results. If you’re looking to eat the acorn ‘on its own,’ or as a side to a main course, dry baking the acorn brushed either some melted butter or olive oil and seasonings is the way to go. However, if you’re looking to stuff your squash, I suggest baking in a water bath, since this method maintains the squash’s original shape much more reliably, and with far less ‘crinkling’ of the skin and less charring of the surface of the squash touching the pan.
4) Positioning Matters. I note in my recipe that you want to place the acorn ‘cut side down,’ meaning to face the ‘meat’ of the acorn in the water of the baking dish. This may seem counter intuitive, but if you start with the skin side down, the skin will be overbaked by the time the recipe is complete, or simply wither, and since the skin is holding today’s recipe together, you don’t want that. Instead, you want it to become ‘leathery’ during an initial ‘dry’ baking phase.
5) Scoop Gently. While you want to be thorough in removing the seeds and ‘strings’ that comprise the acorn’s interior, bear in mind that the ‘harder’ you dig or ‘scoop’ the more you disturb the flesh of the acorn, which is ‘not’ what you want to do for today’s recipe, where the ‘bowl shape’ of the squash is paramount to the success of the recipe.
1) Cutting the Acorn Squash. Cutting or leaving the stem is largely optional, although some prefer it intact for aesthetics. However, the proper way to cut an acorn squash for today’s recipe is to begin at the top of the squash, just off of the ‘root’ or ‘base’ of the stem. Insert the knife until its point has cleared the interior ‘flesh,’ and begin cutting in slow, precise movements around the circumference of the squash until you have reached the opposite end of the base of the stem, such that you have cut the squash in half. Then carefully separate the squash, and you’re done.
2) Taste as you go. One thing that I learned early on in cooking is that you really have to develop your palate to ‘taste as you go.’ For example, in preparing the filling of today’s recipe, once you have combined the cooked wild rice with the cooked crumbled sausage, I suggest that you taste for seasonings to see if it matches your preference, and then adjust accordingly.
Other Great Fall Favorites
1) One Pan Skillet Chicken with Peppers. Spicy, hardy, and super easy to make. This recipe is must for busy autumn nights.
2) Stuffed Bell Peppers. Similar to today’s recipe, but featuring a slightly more mediteranean flavor profile with the addition of capers, Italian style breadcrumbs, and whole fresh cilantro.
3) Homemade Pumpkin Spice. Making your own pumpkin spice is probably the simplest thing in the world. Add it to coffee, whipped cream, cakes, or even soups, this is something you’ll want to have in your Fall recipe repertoire.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 stuffed acorn squash 1x
- 1 pint of grape tomatoes – grilled
- 2 Acorn squash – halved – seed removed
- 1 red onion – sliced thin
- 10 – 15 fresh basil leaves – leave four leaves whole to top each half with and chop the rest
- ½ cup raisins – chopped
- 1 ¾ cup wild rice – cooked as directed
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- Juice of 1 small fresh lemon
- 2 tbs. honey
- Butter for dotting
- 2 tbs. brown sugar – for sprinkling
- Romano cheese for grating
- Preheat Oven 350 degrees F.
To Prepare the Acorn Squash:
- Cut 2 acorn squash lengthwise in half. Place cut sides down in an un-greased baking dish.
- Fill the dish with ½ inch of water.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Turn squash cut sides up and dot each half with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown sugar.
- Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes.
To Prepare the Stuffing:
- Cook the sausage in a medium sized cast iron pan. Crumble the sausage while it is cooking.
- Prepare the wild rice as directed in a saucepan.
- Heat a large cast iron frying pan. Place the grape tomatoes in the dry heated pan and dust with salt.
- Allow the tomatoes to char, then add the sliced onions to get a nice golden color.
- Add the chopped raisins.
- Add the cooked sausage and chopped basil to the tomatoes, onions and raisins and seasonings.
- Add the cooked rice and toss. Taste for seasonings to be adjusted.
- Combine the lemon juice and honey and pour into the stuffing.
- Stuff each half with the stuffing mixture, pressing down with the back of the spoon.
- Top each half with fresh grated Romano cheese, a basil leaf and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. – until the cheese melts.
- Serving Size: 4
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Enjoy with Love!