Acorn Squash with Sausage, Mushroom and Cranberry Stuffing

If there is one recipe I have made this past month that blows all the others' out of the water, it is this one.  It is that good.  Nutty Acorn squash roasted and stuffed with homemade cranberry, mushroom and sausage stuffing.  And, of course, it wouldn't be stuffing without chopped apples, bites of onions and celery.

On the morning I had prepared this dish, my husband asked me at least four times what I was cooking.  I'm going to venture a guess that, at least initially, he was less than enthused about this concoction.  However, after witnessing him eat two Acorn squash halves piled with stuffing, I am quite certain I finally got his attention.  I am very lucky in that my husband never complains about the food I cook (unless it contains tons of sugar) and has never refused any of my cooking.  However, it's not everyday that I prepare something that my husband really really loves.  He likes all my cooking, but I know when I've made him something amazing whenever he gets quiet, eats fast, and only makes noises like, "mmm, Mama, what did you put in this?" ...silence... "mmm, Love, this is the best thing you've ever made".... silence... "mmm, I'm so full but I can't stop eating" 

...silence... "when can you make it again?"

I have to agree, it was delicious.  

As a child I didn't care for stuffing.  And especially didn't care for stuffing with fruit or visible vegetable pieces.  My how times have changed! Stuffing has now become my favorite holiday side dish.  However, I've associated stuffing strictly with Thanksgiving and Christmas that I've completely forgotten that it can be eaten the 363 other days of the year.  In fact, this dish contains every single food group, so I say, why not just eat it all the time?  Ok, maybe not all the time, but don't be surprised if you find me eating stuffing in May, just because.

I will, however, be stuffing these beautiful acorn squash with this even more beautiful stuffing this holiday season when my family comes to visit.  It's easy to make, prepare in large amounts, and oh boy! does it look beautiful on your table (it makes your house smell pretty fantastic, too).  You can even prepare the stuffing ahead of time (even the day before!) and spend more time with your family and less time in the kitchen!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

Prep Time: 15 minutes  /  Cook Time:  1 hour  /  Total Time:  1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 2 (huge!) serving, 4 regular servings


Ingredients

2 Acorn Squash, cut in half, seeded and brushed with olive oil
2 cups whole wheat bread (I purchased fresh bakery style bread with nuts and seeds)
2 cups white bread (again, I used fresh bakery bread)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
10 oz fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb ground pork sausage (I couldn't find ground, so I used regular sausage, removing the casing first)
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
2 apples, cored and diced into small chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2-1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Instructions

Bread Crumbs

This recipe calls for a few days of prior preparation.  To get yummy bread crumbs for stuffing, you'll need to break the bread into smaller pieces and leave it out to stale for at least three to four days.  Each day be sure to break up your bread into smaller and smaller pieces.  Of course, life gets in the way sometimes, and you may not have the time to wait for this to happen.  To speed up the process, place slices of bread on a baking sheet in an oven set at 300 degrees F.  Allow approximately 15 minutes for the bread to dry out slightly. Remove from oven and break into small pieces.

Acorn Squash (see full post here)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut an acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Using a pastry brush, coat the inside and edges with olive oil.
  3. Place your squash open-side-down on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until inside is soft and fork is easily inserted.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside.

Stuffing

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, celery, mushrooms and sausage and mix well.  Be sure to break up the sausage into little pieces. Continue to cook until sausage is cooked through.
  2. Add the dried sage, thyme, salt, pepper and rosemary and fresh parsley.  Stir well.
  3. Add the chopped apple, dried cranberries, bread and butter.  Stir.
  4. Slowly drizzle with the chicken or vegetable stock.  At this point it is more about your desired consistency than exact amounts.  I estimated 1/2 to 1 cup, however, if you find the your stuffing is still dry, don't be afraid to add more.

Assembly

  1. At this point your Acorn squash and stuffing should be complete.  Pile the stuffing on top of the Acorn squash and bake for an additional 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Enjoy!

 

Pear, Apple and Butternut Squash Crisp

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Lemon, Garlic and Red Chili Flakes