One of autumn’s quintessential foods is winter squash… butternut, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, and of course, the delightful little acorn squash. Acorn squash is one of my all-time favorites—it’s perfect for filling up with stuffing. It’s also a very easy squash to cook with because of its manageable size and thin skin (that means it’s easy to cut in half)!
Let’s learn a little bit about acorn squash.
If you’re from the Midwest, chances are you or someone you know has planted a garden and enjoyed home-grown veggies all year long. You may have even heard of a Three Sisters Garden before—that’s when beans, corn, and squash are all planted together. These plants love each other and help one another grow better… and all three are indigenous to the Americas. This is real American food right here!
Fun fact: Even though we all think of acorn squash as a winter squash, it actually comes from the same family as summer squash like zucchini!
How to Pick the Best Acorn Squash
Whether you’re at the local farmer’s market or your favorite grocery store, the rules for how to pick the best acorn squash are the same. Look for squash that have a deep, green color with a little bit of orange mixed in. If a green squash has turned mostly orange, that means it’s been stored too long. Just like green peppers that turn red and orange as they age, acorn squash turn from green to orange as they ripen.
A good squash should feel heavy when you lift it. It should be firm to the touch and free of any soft spots. If you can, find one with the stem still attached. The longer the stem, the longer they will last if stored. Most squash will keep well in a cool place in your kitchen for 2 to 3 weeks.
Here are a couple more tips for your stuffed acorn squash:
Amplify that delicate and delicious squash flavor by adding some diced sweet potato to your stuffing. Want to save time? You can make the entire stuffing a day in advance if you like!
Yield: 4 entrée servings
Author: Mary DiSomma
Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe with Wild Rice and Sweet Italian Sausage
Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 1 H & 5 M
Acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and sweet Italian sausage meet maple syrup, dried fruit, and herbs in this amazing stuffed acorn squash recipe. Add some toasty nuts for crunch and dinner is served!
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces of sweet Italian sausage, either ground or links with casings removed
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (about ¾ cup, cooked)
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes until the onion is translucent.
Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a large mixing bowl. In the same pan used for the vegetables, add the sausage. If you used links and removed the casings, make sure to crumble the raw sausage into smaller pieces. Sauté on medium heat until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl with the sautéed vegetables.
You will be sautéing the sweet potatoes in the same pan used for the sausage. Remove any excess grease from the pan. Add the diced sweet potato and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the sweet potato, wild rice, maple syrup, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, dried apricots, Italian parsley, salt and pepper to the wild rice and sausage mixture. Mix gently to combine. Set mixture aside. You can store the cooled stuffing in the refrigerator for up to one day.
I like to pre-cook my squash before stuffing it—this helps ensure it gets cooked all the way through. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the squash halves, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a paring knife inserted into the squash comes out easily.
Remove the squash from the oven, but keep it on the baking sheet pan. Divide the stuffing evenly among the squash halves. Gently tap the stuffing down into the cavity then make a small dome with the mixture on top of the squash. Loosely place a piece of aluminum foil over the squash. This will ensure that the wild rice doesn’t get overcooked during the baking process. Return the squash to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes so they are heated through.
Mary DiSomma, Foodie, Author, Philanthropist, Mother, Wife and so much more...
Mary DiSomma, an enthusiastic and imaginative baker of cookies, is the author and publisher of A Gift of Cookies: Recipes to Share with Family & Friends. She is also a philanthropist, podiatrist, entrepreneur, and mother of four grown children.
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