Bake acorn squash with sausage and apples to usher in fall
About the recipe
The key to perfectly stuffed squash is having the correct ratio of squash to filling. To help achieve this, scoop out all but a half-inch of the flesh of the roasted squash. Mixing most of the softened squash with the remaining stuffing ingredients better integrates the flavors throughout the entire dish.
If you’d like to make a vegetarian version of this dish, you can substitute 1 pound of mushrooms, sauteed in butter. We particularly like shiitakes here, but you could also use a mixture of wild mushrooms or cremini mushrooms, cooked until all of their liquid has evaporated. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Hands on time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed (see note)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the squash halves on a baking sheet cut-side up. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over the flesh of the squash. Liberally season with salt and black pepper and roast until the squash are fork tender and the edges have started to curl, about 40 minutes. Let cool until easy to handle. Keep the oven on.
While squash are roasting, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apples, sage and garlic, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
When the squash are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a large bowl, leaving 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin to help retain each squash’s shape. Add the sausage mixture and stir to incorporate the squash. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Stuff the sausage mixture into the hollowed squash halves and return to the baking sheet. Top with the bread crumbs and the Parmigiano Reggiano. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and roast until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with additional Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzle with additional extra-virgin olive oil, as desired. Serve.