Savory Sausage Stuffed Squash
I was not planning to write about this recipe. It was supposed to be just a quick weeknight dinner that served the purpose of using up a few forlorn carnival squash. The squash had been sitting patiently on my counter since the last farmer’s market way back in October, a long time even for squash. Yet, in classic Alton Brown fashion, the proper mix of ingredients and techniques in this recipe turned an ordinary weeknight meal into a dish worth celebrating.
The filling combines ground pork and rice with a classic mirepoix, white wine, spinach, and toasty pine nuts. Together the ingredients form a stuffing that is packed with savory flavor. If you are looking to eat less meat this is a great way to do it. The squash could even be modified into a vegetarian dish with the use of soyrizo, crumbled smoked tempeh, or another sausage substitute. Baked inside small sweet squashes the end result is an edible bowl of goodness- filling, healthy, and satisfying on a cold winter night.
Savory Sausage Stuffed Squash (Printable Recipe)
Minimally Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats
Note: Depending on the size of your squash you may have a bit of leftover stuffing. If so, it is wonderful scrambled with eggs for a quick breakfast the next day.
4 small acorn squash, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces (or a vegan butter substitute like Earthbalance)
1/2 pound ground pork (or soyrizo)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, completely thawed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Generous pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
Prepare the Squash
Slice the first 2-3″ off the top of the squash to create a “lid” and scoop out the seeds. If the squash does not stand upright, slice a small portion of the bottom off to form a flat surface. Place 1 of the pieces of butter inside the cavity of each squash. Set the squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
Make the Filling
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it is brown. Transfer the pork to a small bowl, and set aside. Add olive oil to the warm skillet and saute the onion, celery, and carrot until they are soft, about 7-10 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom.
Add the pork back into the skillet along with the cooked rice, spinach, pine nuts, and oregano. Stir the filling, taste, and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Cook the filling, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until it is heated all the way through. Turn off the heat and set the skillet aside.
Bake the Squash
Spoon the filling into the cavity of each squash, dividing it equally among the 4 squash. Set the “lid” on top of each squash, and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve immediately.