There was a time when I shied away from fall squashes. I’m not even sure of why. But, boy, I really didn’t know what I was missing until I once bought a bunch of fall squashes for a table-setting centerpiece for a dinner occasion. A discussion ensued about cooking and eating these delicious bounty of squashes. I later made it my mission to cook one of the squashes.
My first effort was to roast a squash in the sweet version. You know, the butter and brown sugar method. Later I decided to roast an acorn squash but as a savory one-dish meal. It’s so easy to do and its appetizing aroma filled the house! The flavors did not disappoint me.
From left to right, fall squashes include the butternut squash, a white acorn squash, a sweet dumpling squash, and the turban squash. One could argue, though I’m not why, that a pumpkin is not a squash; but in fact, it is in the family of squashes.
I used a sweet Italian bulk sausage and sweet onion to compliment the sweet flavor of this sweet dumpling acorn squash. You can of course use a white acorn squash but I simply love the colorful tripes of the deep green and cream. I wanted to keep a kind of confetti look and so added an orange bell pepper. Well, when it’s fall, some orange simply must be in the mix!
Suggested tools: Sheet pan lined with parchment paper; a very, very sharp knife that is at least 7” long
Prep time: 15 min, Total Cook Time: 35 min
1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 Sweet dumpling acorn squash, washed and seeded with stringy fibers scooped out
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage (Option: sweet Italian sausage links with casing removed)
1 cup sweet onion, chopped (Option: Vidalia onion)
1/2 cup orange or red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 package 5ounce baby spinach
2 Tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley
Juice from half of a lemon
Preheat oven 425 degrees F
Place acorn squash in microwave for 3 minutes. This will soften the outter skin.
Cut squash in half from the stem to the root. Spread olive oil on the cut portion of each half. Place squash halves cut side down on sheet pan that is covered with parchment paper. You don’t have to use parchment paper. I like using it for an easy clean up afterward. Place sheet pan on the middle bottom rack of the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the squash is soft.
While the squash halves are baking, make the filling.
Over medium heat, cook the sausage for about 3-5 minutes in a large frying pan or a very large sause pan (a 4 quart sauce pan is perfect!). Break up sausage into small pieces. When the sausage is browned (if you want it browned), push it to the said of the pan. You should oil left over from the sausage in the pan. If not, add a little olive oil.
Add onions, celery and bell pepper to the frying pan. Cook until translucent. (about 3-4 minutes)
Add garlic and thyme. Stir all ingredients together.
Turn off heat, and add the parsley, lemon juice and baby spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove squash from oven. Turn them over. Sprinkle paprika on the cut edges of the squash halves.
Scoop filling into each cavity of the squashes. You will most likely have some filling left over. Just add the left-over filling to the plates. Or, if you’re as bad as me while cooking, snack on and enjoy the left-over fillings. Pat yourself on the back and smile at your masterpiece!!
Return squash to the oven and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
Serve nice and hot!