There were whispers of cooler weather this week. In the evening, while Sophie and Milo played in the backyard, I could sit with my eyes closed while the breeze ran over my face. It felt so unbelievably soothing. I even had my first cocoa of the season. It’s really, really the season for all things cozy. And this stuffed acorn squash is cozy, friends.
An impressive little dish that doesn’t require any fancy skills or special equipment, it’s just simple ingredients, put together well. Michael, who is NOT a squash guy, said these were delicious. Scraping off little bit of squash into each bite of the filling gives you just the right blend of flavors. It’s creamy and savory and filling all at once. We ate these as a main dish with a side salad and a bit of fruit. They were plenty for a main dish. If you prefer to serve them as a side dish, you may want to halve them again (giving each person a quarter squash).
I used homemade chicken bone broth in my rice and it lends such a delicious texture and flavor. Bone broth is full of minerals and nutrients. It’s worth learning to make, if you don’t already know how. Even if your kids won’t eat the squash, the rice tastes so good it’s sure to please. (Both my little ones liked each element of this dish separately.) If you’re using store-bought broth, just try for the best-quality you can find. I like Pacific Naturals brand. It’s gluten free and doesn’t have any scary ingredients.
Still seem too fussy? You can roast the squash in cubes, then add it to your rice stuffing and serve it as a rice pilaf. It’s delicious this way, too.
Notes on the recipe:
Thanksgiving and Making This Ahead of Time. This would also be a delicious side dish for Thanksgiving. Stuffed turkeys take longer to cook, so skip stuffing your turkey and make these instead. All the parts can be prepared ahead of time–you can roast the squash and make the rice/sausage filling a day ahead. You can then just assemble the dish and pop it into the oven to heat it through and crisp up those edges on the squash. Or, you can see the note above about just serving this as a rice pilaf.
Portion Sizes. If you’re serving it as a side dish, you may want to cut each squash half in half again, then scoop the rice filling over the top. It’ll be a bit less impressive-looking, but the portion size will be more spot on.
Preparing the squash. Need a few pointers on how to prepare an acorn squash? This is a great tutorial.
- 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
- 8-12 oz bulk sausage (I used breakfast sausage, but Italian or spicy would work)
- 1 cup rice, uncooked
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups chicken broth (I used chicken bone broth)
- ½ cup toasted almonds
- ½ cup dried cherries, apricots, or raisins
- ½-1 apple, diced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the cut squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-45 minutes, or until edges are browned and squash is tender.
- While the squash is roasting, heat a small drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan. Add onion, celery, and rice to the saucepan. Cook 2-3 minutes to let the rice get a bit of flavor. Pour in the broth. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and let steam for 10-15 minutes, or until broth is absorbed and rice is cooked through.
- While the rice is cooking, cook sausage in a sauté pan until browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat from the pan.
- Fluff rice with a fork. Stir in almonds, cherries, apple, and sausage. When the squash is cooked through, divide the rice stuffing amongst the squash halves. Serve warm.