Thanksgiving side dish: stuffed acorn squash

Savory and sweet mingle in a satisfying way in this stuffed acorn squash.

The Garden of Eating
This baked acorn squash stuffed with sausage and dried fruit could also make an entree on its own.

Stuffed acorn squash is a classic side dish at Thanksgiving.

I find this combination of sweet and savory totally irresistible. Acorn squash requires a bit more cooking time than delicata so you will need to pre-bake before stuffing it. I recommend baking in a pan with a little water to help keep the flesh moist as it cooks.

Sweet & Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4

2 large acorn squashes, rinsed, cut in half length-wise and seeded
8 ounces sweet Italian pork sausage, loose (you can either buy it this way or remove it from the casings)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
2 eggs, beaten
1 large granny smith or Fuji apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries or currants (or both!)
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub a little olive oil over the cut surface of each squash half and place, cut-side down in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Pour an inch or two of water into the pan and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, 35-45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a frying pan over medium heat until it is crumbly and lightly browned all over. Put the meat aside and use the fat in the pan to sauté the onions until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the apples, cranberries or raisins, and sage; stir often until apples have softened. Transfer to a bowl and add the sausage, rice, salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs and stir well to combine.

3. Remove the cooked squash halves from the oven, empty the baking dish of any leftover water and place the halves back inside turned upright. Fill the halves equally with the stuffing mixture and drizzle with maple syrup. Bake, uncovered until the filling is slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes longer. 

Related post on The Garden of Good Eating: Candied Butternut Squash

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