Woohoo! It's Fall!! Around here, Fall is more of an attitude than an actual season because significantly cooler temperatures don't arrive here until November. Normally, I'm not so excited about Fall, but this year, I've already put some mini pumpkins on display and I've started transitioning from lighter summer recipes to the heartier fall recipes. This past weekend, I had a marathon session in my kitchen where, among other things, I roasted butternut squash and a pumpkin and made this very fall-inspired dish.
I actually attempted this dish once before, but it did not turn out very well at all. I chalk it up more to user-error than anything else: I over-peppered and underseasoned at the same time, I tried to make it vegetarian while missing some of the key ingredients like celery and fresh herbs, and I used a butternut squash as the base, which made it squash heavy. I'd like to try vegetarian-izing it again, but, honestly, this version is so darn good, I'm not sure that I need to.
This recipe makes a lot of stuffing - probably enough for 8 servings - especially since I upped the quinoa amount. So, either scale down the recipe or save the stuffing for leftovers. I've already had the stuffing heated up plain, wrapped in a burrito with scrambled eggs, and microwaved with an egg mixed in and topped with salsa (most successful version, IMO). You could also put it in a small baking dish and top it with the cheese Panko mixture. I plan on doing this next time because I'm not sure how much the acorn squash adds to the flavor.
Quinoa and sausage stuffed acorn squash
Adapted from The Other Side of Fifty
- 1 acorn or other small squash (mini pumpkins might work well, too)
Cut squash in half and remove seeds and any stringy pulp. Brush squash halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and add 1/4" of water to pan. Roast squash in 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, or until fork tender.
I used red quinoa from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. If you buy your quinoa in bulk, use the directions below, otherwise follow the directions on the package. Also, I doubled this recipe, not realizing just how much it made.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
- 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth (I used homemade mushroom broth)
Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; pour in the quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, no sulfur added
- 1/2 lb. chicken sausage (I used 2 1/2 links, casings removed)
- 1 TBSP olive oil (or cooking fat from sausage)
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (you could also use thyme)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seed kernels (I used pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 TBSP parmesan cheese,grated
Brown sausage in large skillet. Remove from pan, leaving the cooking fat in the pan if you are using it, and set aside.
Return skillet to stove and add olive oil (if using). Add onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Saute until onion is softened and translucent then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for a few minutes to ensure that flour loses its raw taste. Whisk in the broth and cook/stir until smooth and bubbly. Stir in fresh herbs and remove pan from heat. Add the pumpkin or sunflower seeds, quinoa, cranberries, and sausage to the skillet, stirring to combine well.
Stir Panko and parmesan together in a small bowl.
Stuff each half of the acorn squash with the sausage/quinoa mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the Panko crumbs. Place squash back into oven for 10-15 minutes to heat through and brown the breadcrumbs.