Slowly trickling in over the past few weeks, the winter squash season is officially under way with dozens of varieties being harvested from our local farms.
You can find everything from the most popular butternut and spaghetti squashes to the delicious delicata and sweet dumpling squashes. This hearty fall and winter staple is a great option as we head into the cooler time of year. I find myself preparing at least one type of winter squash per week, whether to roast and serve as a side dish, make a creamy soup, a squash-infused risotto or pasta dish, or a nice mash.
One of the first winter squashes to emerge each year is the acorn squash.
Much smaller than most of its counterparts, the acorn squash is perfect for making a meal for one or two servings.
While the acorn squash tends to be less sweet than many of the other varieties, it’s quite flavorful, with a pleasing underlying nutty presence. When roasted, its natural sweetness is enhanced. Some choose to peel this variety before cooking, but most people slice them in half, remove the seeds and roast skin side down in the oven.
Due to their physique, acorn squashes are excellent when roasted and stuffed.
Sometimes I will choose a heartier filling such as sautéed ground beef, onions and peppers tossed with rice, and other times a sweeter version with diced apples, walnuts, and chopped mint. Whatever your filling of choice may be, it’s best to roast the squash first until tender. Then add the filling before finishing in the oven.
Roasted Acorn Squash with Sausage and Honey Crisp Apple
2 acorn squashes
½ pound Sweet Italian sausage (loose)
2 medium honeycrisp cpples, peeled and diced, core discarded
½ yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 sprigs mint, leaves finely chopped, stems discarded (or use fresh thyme leaves)
Aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and membrane and discard. Drizzle the cut portion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking dish skin side down and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. While the squash is cooking, sauté the sausage in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes.
Then add the apple, onion and celery and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until all ingredients are tender. Toss in mint leaves and turn off heat.
Fill each cavity of the acorn squash with the mixture, and place back in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Plate and drizzle the squash with a little olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Yield: Serves 4.