Cheap and Cheerful Dinner: Stuffed Fall Delicata Squash
Stuffed Delicata Squash is quick, easy, economical, nutritious, and incredibly delicious. It's a family favorite and a dish I make often in the fall. If you can't find delicata squash, substitute acorn squash or even butternut. They'll be good, too! The squash are mounded with a stuffing that includes plenty of onions, celery, apples, and turkey sausage and then baked in the oven. You'll need a box of stuffing for the recipe, or you can use stale bread that you've toasted and seasoned, if you prefer. I cook the squash in the microwave before stuffing them to speed the process. The pre-cooking also makes halving and seeding the squash easier, although delicata aren't nearly as hard to open as other fall/winter squash varieties. Delicata also has skins that cook up soft, and you can eat them, if you like (I do, my husband doesn't). The stuffed squash are a meal in themselves, but, if you like, try serving them with a green salad and perhaps some bread or muffins.
Stuffed Delicata Squash -- Serves 6
3 medium-large delicata squash (5-8 inches long)
16-ounce roll of turkey breakfast sausage (I get it at Aldi, Wegman's, or Walmart)
1/3 cup of chopped celery
1/3 cup of chopped onion
1 medium apple, cored and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
6-ounce package of stuffing mix (I use the kind for turkey)
1 cup of low-fat milk
1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Pierce the squash in several places with a knife, put them on a microwave-safe plate, cover them with a paper towel, and microwave the squash for 8-10 minutes or until you can pierce them easily with a knife. Let the squash cool a few minutes. With a sharp knife, slit the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds an fibrous membrane (if the squash are still hot, hold them with a paper towel). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a large baking dish or sheet pan (or split the squash between 2 pans, if you want to eat some now and save the rest for later) with non-stick cooking spray. Put the squash halves in the baking dish or on the pan. In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, and apple and 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave the mixture for a few minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the turkey sausage, stuffing mix, milk, poultry seasoning, and dried cranberries and stir everything until the stuffing mix is fully incorporated. Divide the stuffing mixture among the squash, mounding it in the squash wells. If you'd like, sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top of the stuffing mounds. Bake the squash for about 45 minutes or until the stuffing has browned and everything has cooked through (the internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Let the squash sit a few minutes before serving them.