Today is my third furlough day. For someone who isn’t “working” I sure am keeping busy. Amongst other things, I have washed a zillion dishes and loaded and unloaded the dishwasher a few times. I know cooking less would cut down on the dishes but I can’t help myself. I am addicted to cooking, I just can’t stop.
Anyways, this week’s ingredient, acorn squash. Despite being known as a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the summer squash family. Native to North America, the squash is technically a fruit. Peak season runs from early fall through winter. When purchasing, look for squash that are heavy for their size and have smooth dull skin. Avoid overly large or shiny squash. Shiny squash were picked too early. The squash can be stored in a cool dark space for up to a month or in the refrigerator for two weeks.
I made squash stuffed with sausage and quinoa. If my recipe doesn’t appeal to you don't fret, a quick Google search will provide numerous tasty looking variations.
Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Adapted from Fitness Magazine
2 Medium acorn quash
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup quinoa
1 Tbp olive oil
2 chicken sausages, roughly 6 oz. I used chicken bratwurst.
1/2 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp each of cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon
Salt and pepper
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees and cutting the squash in half lengthwise with a big beefy knife. Once sliced open, scoop out the seeds and stringy material from the center of the squash. Place the squash cut side down in a large baking dish and add roughly a cup of water to the bottom of the dish. There should be just enough water to fully cover the bottom of the dish. Once the oven has fully warmed, bake the pan of squash for 35 minutes.
Once the squash is in the oven, start making the filling. Peel the apple and then chop it and the onion into small pieces. Next, peel and dice the garlic.
Remove the casing from the sausage with a sharp knife and break it into smaller pieces.
Now that all the chopping and cutting is done, prepare the quinoa. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan and rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Rinsing removes the seed’s bitter coating. Once the broth is boiling, add the rinsed quinoa, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Uncover and stir occasionally. The quinoa will take approximately 15 minutes to cook. It is done when all the liquid is absorbed and it can be fluffed with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and start cooking the sausage, medium heat. Once the sausage has started to brown, add in the apple, onion, and garlic. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and spices. I added roughly a teaspoon of each of the three spices. Let the mixture cook for 3 or 4 minutes before adding the cooked quinoa and cranberries.
By this time the squash should have finished cooking. Drain any extra water from the pan and turn the squash cut side up. Fill the squash with the sausage and quinoa mixture. You should have enough stuffing to generously fill all 4 squash halves.
Place the filled squash halves back in the oven for 20 minutes. While they are baking shred some cheddar cheese for topping. I used white cheddar but yellow would be good too. Once the 20 minutes have elapsed, pull out the squash, garnish halves with cheese, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes. The dish is finished when the cheese is all melted.
The stuffed squash was a big hit. Dave’s only request, more meat. Lucky for him, I accidentally bought more sausage than needed so I sautéed it up with onion and apple to fill out the meal. I am looking forward to eating the leftovers tonight and I can’t wait to try out different versions of this meal.