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Stuffed Acorn Squash

November 17, 2011

We have safely arrived at our latest temporary destination and wasted no time christening the new kitchen! What better way to make a place feel like home then filling it with the sweet aromas of food? I suppose you could buy a lovely smelling candle, but I find the cooking approach is much more fulfilling.

Being mid-November, we found ourselves in the mood for the ever so tasty seasonal acorn squash. I went on the hunt for something tasty to try, but couldn’t exactly find what I wanted. So, with the help of my husband, I pulled from a few different sources, incorporated a few of new ideas, and created our own recipe. And now it is time to share with all of you!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Yields: 4 Servings

2 Acorn squash
Black pepper
Cooking spray
3 links Bulk turkey sausage
3 tablespoons Olive oil
1 cup Uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 cup Onion (chopped)
1 Garlic clove (minced)
1/2 medium Red bell pepper (chopped)
1 14.5-ounce can Diced tomatoes (drained, plus 1/2 cup reserved juices)
1 1/2 cups Low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can Black beans (drained and rinsed)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange squash halves cut side down on a bak­ing sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 45 min­utes, or until fork tender. (Cooking time will vary depending on size of squash.)
2. Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside on a paper-towel lined plate.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. While rice is cooking, sprinkle with salt, cumin, and chili powder.
3. Stir onions, garlic, and bell pepper into rice and cook until tender. Stir in diced tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
4. Combine rice, sausage, and black beans.
5. Remove the squash from the oven and, using a spatula, carefully flip squash to cut side up. Pour out any excess liquid from the centers. Divide the rice mixture among the squash. Sprinkle each squash half with 1/4 cup cheese.
6. Bake squash until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Kate’s Thoughts

I must admit I am a little biased in saying there isn’t much I would change about this recipe. That being said, I still have lots of helpful hints to share. For starters, be sure not to overcook the rice. It will continue to cook once it has been combined with the sausage and beans, so it should still have a slight bite when it finishes on the stove-top. I would also recommend giving the rice a quick taste to ensure the seasoning is where you want it before combining it with the sausage and beans. It is much easier to tweak things at this point than once it has been cooked and covered with cheese.

I chose to use diced tomatoes since tomatoes aren’t in season locally, and there is nothing worse than out of season flavorless tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes would be great otherwise. If using fresh, increase the indicated chicken broth to 2 cups and add 1/2 cup tomato sauce to amp up the tomato flavor.

As indicated in the recipe, cooking times will vary depending on the size of the squash. My recommendation is that you select a small to medium-sized squash. I insisted that we find the largest squash in the store, technically two stores because I didn’t think the squash at the first store were large enough, but you get the point. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach on this one, especially considering how much goes into the stuffing. Can’t say I didn’t warn you…

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