Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Autumnal Fare

Recipe adapted from Casalegno Family Farm

One of my favorite things about Farmers’ Markets is meeting the people behind the food. It’s especially rewarding to meet a vendor who owns and operates a farm while raising two children and working a day job. Marissa Casalegno and her husband Matt, are the fifth Casalegno Farm generation. They work day and night to expand their farm and preserve heirloom veggies. Marissa gave me this recipe, featuring Casalegno Family Farm’s fantastic winter squash and green apples. Sausage and spices compliment sweet squash and sour apples beautifully.

Enjoy with Hard Cider
Marissa uses bulk Italian sausage, but Aidell’s, our local charcuterie, had reduced prices on all of their products at the market. Their Italian Style sausage, fully cooked, works deliciously in the recipe. And hats off to Marissa for her idea of combining curry powder with sweet spices—an unusual mixture that compliments both sausage and squash—and the apples. Rounding out the all-local sourcing, I served the stuffed squash with Rider Ranch Ciderwork’s potent (8.5% ABV) Smoked and Oaked Newtown Pippin, a slightly effervescent smoky (hard) cider that packs a punch. With a side of baby greens salad (or you could substitute cooked greens), this made a cozy late autumn meal. Give it a try if you come across some delicious-looking acorn squash at the market.

Closeup of Goodness
Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
serves 4 generously

2 medium acorn squash (2–2½ lbs. apiece)
12 oz. (1 pkg.) pre-cooked Aidell’s spicy Italian sausage (or  1 lb. bulk spicy Italian sausage)
1 tbsp. olive oil (or more)
2½ cups diced green apples (~3 medium)
½ cup finely diced onion (~½ medium)
½ cup finely diced celery (~2 stalks)
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. nutmeg
1½ tsp. curry powder (or more)
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Split the squash evenly using a rubber mallet and cleaver (detailed instructions here, at beginning of recipe). Clean out seeds and membranes: use a grapefruit/serrated spoon for easy removal. Place squash, cut side down, in baking pan and add water to pan to about 1-inch depth. Bake in preheated oven till soft, about 30 minutes. When done, remove squash from water and drain water from baking pan. For easy clean-up, cut a piece of baking parchment to fit the bottom of the baking pan. Return squash halves to pan, cut side up.

While squash is baking, prepare stuffing. In skillet over medium heat, brown sausage in olive oil. If using precooked links, jiggle pan around and/or flip sausages every few minutes to brown evenly. If using bulk sausage, stir frequently to fully cook and brown evenly. This will take about 8 minutes. Remove sausage from pan. If using links, cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice into chunks. Set aside.

Stuffing with Celery, Onion, Apple, Sausage, and added Squash
Add Some Squash to Stuffing
In same skillet, sauté onion and celery over medium heat, adding more olive oil as needed. When semi-tender, add apples. Sauté, stirring frequently, until apples are soft but not mushy. Remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, but still warm, place in mixing bowl. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and curry powder to taste. Mix in sausage.

When squash is cool enough to handle (but still warm), scoop out about half of the flesh and add to the mixing bowl with the stuffing mixture. This will make the stuffing stick together so it’s easy to stuff the squash, along with adding its complimentary squash-y flavor.

Pack stuffing into squash, mounding up evenly with a large metal serving spoon. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Return to oven, and bake until cheese is melted and stuffing is hot, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, serve, and enjoy!

Halved Raw Acorn Squash
Raw Material: Acorn Squash

Precooked Squash: Ready to Scoop and Stuff

Four Stuffed Half Squashes, Baked and Topped with Cheese
Stuffed, Baked, and Ready to Savor

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