Squash are Hollow For a Reason
Sometimes nature gives you a hint and you’d usually be stupid not to take advantage of it. Many times these hints are clues to STAY AWAY. See: brightly colored toads. But sometimes nature’s hint can be inviting.
I’m pretty sure this is why squash are hollow. It’s nature’s way of saying, “Go ahead. Stuff me with a delicious maple/sausage/orzo stuffing. It’s a really good idea.”
And so you would be stupid not to do this thing. It natural after all.
I went subtle for this week’s poll winner (maple syrup). Maple can be one of those flavors that can take over a dish if not used carefully. A little bit goes a long way and adds the perfect richness and flavor. The maple in this stuffed squash recipe really takes it to another level.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Yield: Serves 4.
- 2 large acorn squash, halved
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil (might not need it depending on sausage fat content)
- 8 ounces orzo pasta
- 4 Teaspoons butter
- 4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (the good stuff please)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- Parmesan cheese, grated
1) Slice acorn squash in half. Scoop out seeds with a spoon and add 1 tsp. butter, 1 Tablespoon syrup, a pinch of sage, and a pinch of salt and pepper to each squash.
2) Cover the squash with foil and bake, skin side down, at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until the flesh is tender.
3) Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package.
4) In a large pan, add sausage and cook on medium-high heat until browned and fat is rendered. Add peppers, onions, and garlic and continue to cook until veggies are soft.
5) Mix orzo into sausage mixture.
6) When squash are done, stuff each squash with 1/4 of the filling. They will pretty much overflow. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each squash.
7) Bake again at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and filling very hot, about 15 minutes.
8) Serve immediately.
Baking the squash
The most intimidating part of this recipe is chopping open the squash. Their skins are tough and thick.
No dainty knives shall pass.
What you need for this is a sturdy chef’s knife. Hold the squash so the stem is pointing away from you, then stab the squash straight down in the direct middle of the gourd. The knife should be perpendicular to the cutting board.
Push the knife down so it’s parallel with the cutting board and as you push, the knife will cut open half of the squash. Repeat on the other side and the squash should split right open.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside.
Then add 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 Teaspoon butter, a pinch of fresh sage, and a pinch of salt and pepper to each squash half. This will smell really good already.
Wrap each gourd half in foil and bake them, skin side down, at 350 degrees until the squash is tender, about 45-60 minutes.
Be careful when unwrapping the squash because there will be lots of steam!
Making the filling
While your squash bake, you can prepare the filling. I like using orzo pasta for filling, but you could also use any kind of rice if you wanted.
I like orzo because it plumps up nicely and absorbs lots of flavor.
You can cook the orzo according to it’s package. Drain it and set it aside.
For the sausage part, start by adding your sausage to a large pan and cook it over medium high heat until it’s nicely browned and the fat is mostly rendered out.
Then add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook until the veggies are soft, just a few minutes.
Once the sausage is nicely browned and the veggies are soft, add the orzo to the sausage and stir well to combine. If the filling looks dry, feel free to add a drizzle of olive oil. It probably won’t need it though.
Finishing the dish
You probably know what’s next. Fill each squash with a quarter of the filling. They will be overflowing with filling which is awesome.
Top each squash with some Parmesan cheese also!
Bake these guys until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot, probably 15 more minutes.
One of these is pretty much a meal. They are large and filling!
The best part about this dish is digging your spoon way down deep into the squash where that sweet maple syrup and butter rests. The saltiness and spiciness of the sausage works great with the sweetness of the maple syrup.
Leftovers keep great for these guys also which is good because you won’t be able to eat more than one in a sitting.
So do what nature commands and go stuff a squash already!