As the holidays approach, I’m taking time off from the 38 Power Foods blog group, as are the other girls. Even though it is a bit early, I’m finding myself more in the mood for holiday foods. On Thanksgiving Day, I particularly enjoy eating the stuffing and I realized that there are rarely leftovers. This got me to thinking that I wanted it now, without delay. I didn’t want to bake a turkey because then I wouldn’t enjoy it next week when the relatives are in town to share in that special, once a year meal. But I wanted stuffing and it struck me that I’d never made stuffed squash. So, there I was with the problem resolved; this was a good reason to make it. Honestly, I’ve never been much a winter squash lover, but even Costco has gotten into the stuffed squash game. I figured it was time for me to give a try and share it here if it ended in a good result.
Stuffed squash recipes abound on the Internet. I took a look at three of them (1, 2, 3) to get a general idea of cooking times, seasonings, and oven temp, and then I was off and going. I drew heavily on my mother’s stuffing recipe, and as usual, I wanted to make the dish healthy, so I used turkey sausage instead of pork, and I omitted the butter from her recipe. You may gasp when you see the list of ingredients, but it’s really just basic spices, sautéed vegetables, dried fruit, cashews, and chestnuts. I found pre-peeled chestnuts at Trader Joes and they really add a lot of flavor. This dish can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using vegetarian sausage and vegetable stock instead. My husband was wowed with the flavor, and I think you will be too. It’s a special recipe for my healthy eating habits.
Servings: 4 Prep Time: 30 minutes Baking Time: 1 hour
2 carnival or acorn squash, 2 pounds each
2 to 4 oz sausage, vegan, chicken, or turkey
3 cups white whole wheat dried breadcrumbs
1/3 plus 1 tablespoon vegetable stock, or chicken stock
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1-½ tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon raisins
½ cup chestnuts, chopped
1/3 cup pecans, or cashews
1-½ teaspoons mixed herbs, like herbs de Provence, or oregano/basil
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon sage
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large casserole pan, or cookie sheet pan with tin foil; this will make clean up easy. Wash the squash and dry them, and then spilt them open along the length. Use a large spoon to remove the seeds. Season the squash halves well with salt and pepper; place them face down in the pan, and bake for 30 minutes.
Sauté the sausage in a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Break it up with a fork as it cooks. When it is done place it in a small bowl and set it aside.
Add 1-½ tablespoons olive oil to the pan and sauté the celery, the onions, and the mushrooms. Add the garlic when the onions turn to translucent white. Cook until the vegetables are tender, and then add the sausage back to the pan mixing it in.
Place the breadcrumbs in a 4-quart pan; add the cooked vegetables, the herbs, chestnuts, nuts, cranberries, raisins, and the stock.
After the squash has cooked 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, turn the squash over so the cavities faces up. Fill each cavity with ¼ of the stuffing. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes check for tenderness. Continue to bake if it isn’t tender yet. If the squash is tender, take off the top layer of foil and continue to bake 5 more minutes.