Dinner for Two or Four: Stuffed Acorn Squash
Leftovers have a great place in the weekly meal rotation, but sometimes you can't face another night of the same old/same old. That's why Stuffed Acorn Squash for two is a great option. The recipe makes enough for dinner and no more. Or, if you want dinner for four, just cook two squash and double the stuffing amount. Stuffed Acorn Squash is almost a meal in itself, with plenty of veggies and protein. The hard squash softens quickly in the microwave while you work on the stuffing, which includes savory turkey breakfast sausage, vegetables, and sweet apples and dried cranberries. Yes, if you're making dinner only for two people, you'll most likely have breakfast sausage left over from making the dish, but that's easily added to your eggs the next morning (or to a breakfast quiche). The stuffed squash needs about 30 minutes in the oven, which will give you plenty of time to make a simple salad. How does the stuffed squash taste? It's great! The sausage and apples complement the sweet squash, and just the right amount of sweet and savory spices add interest. The dish is uncomplicated, comforting, nutritious, and filling on a cold winter night.
Stuffed Acorn Squash -- Serves 2-4
1-2 medium/large acorn squash(es), washed well
Stuffing -- Serves 2 (double the amounts for 4 people/2 acorn squashes)
1 tablespoon of canola or olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped onion
1 small stalk of celery, chopped
1 small apple, cored, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon of poultry spice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 pound of ground turkey breakfast sausage (from a roll is fine)
1/2 cup of light sour cream
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons of dried cranberries (or raisins, if you prefer)
1-2 tablespoons milk or white wine (optional)
1-2 tablespoons of Panko bread crumbs
Spritz a baking dish or pan with non-stick baking spray and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the squash in 4-5 places with a knife, place the squash on a plate lined with a paper towel, and place a paper towel over the squash. Microwave the squash for 5-7 minutes (10-14 for 2 squashes) on high or until the squash is tender enough to slice open (don't worry if it's still a little hard, because the squash will continue cooking in the oven).
While the squash is cooking, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet or chef's pan until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, apple, poultry spice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice to the pan and saute them together for a few minutes. Crumble in the breakfast sausage and saute it with the vegetables for 7-10 minutes or until cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream, Parmesan, and dried cranberries. If the mixture seems a little dry, add the milk or wine.
When the squash is done/mostly done, cut the squash in half (using the paper towels to avoid burning your hands), scoop out and discard the seeds/inner membrane, and slice a small piece of the greenish skin from the underside of each squash half so that the halves will sit flat in the baking dish. Put the squash halves in the baking dish and pour about 1/4 cup of water around them. Divide the sausage/vegetable mixture between the squash halves, pressing it into the squash wells and mounding the mixture a bit. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the stuffing. Spritz the breadcrumbs with a little non-stick baking spray and bake the squash halves for about 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Let the squash halves cool a few minutes before serving them.