October 30, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
With daylight savings over this past weekend (in the UK, don’t worry if your in the US, you haven’t been running an hour ahead since Sunday) and a wind storm that filled our yard with crisp colorful leaves, it definitely feels like fall has arrived. I know the word “cozy” is probably overused this time of year, as we break out our sweaters and boots and turn on the heat. But there is something about coming home, walking in from the crisp cool air outside to the warm hues of fall decorations and the soft spice-filled autumn aromas. Embracing the season and holding off on Christmas which is approaching way too fast, I’ve filled our flat with an overload of fall flavors and frills this week.
All this cozy talk makes me really wish we had a fire crackling right now. But alas, that would require a fireplace. So I’ll have to settle for candles and flowers to set the mood. I love that fall colors can actually be so bright.
Since I’m in the spirit of the season, over the weekend, I went on a quest to Borough Market for fall squash. I didn’t find the acorn squash that I had in mind but decided to give kabocha a try. I’d heard they are similar in flavor and to some people even more sweet and intense. Here’s my bounty along with some spaghetti squash (I’m excited to try out this recipe I found on Pinterest) and some late season heirloom tomatoes which we had as part of a mozzarella sald to top balsamic chicken for a quick dinner the other night.
My goal for this Sausage Stuffed Squash dish was to bring all my favorite tastes of this time of year into one cute little yellow edible bowl. I mix sausage with kale, cranberries, wild rice, and pecans, plus top the squash bowls with browned butter sage breadcrumbs. I know what you are thinking right now: I should probably make this! And you are correct.
Carefully cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. A big sharp knife helps get these puppies open.
So that the squash sit flat when you bake and serve them, slice off a small disk from the opposite end. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast first cut side down then flip over and continue to roast until soft, about 45 minutes total.
While the squash roast, make the filling. Brown sausage, then sauté with kale and dried cranberries.
Plump the filling with white wine and chicken broth flavored with a hint of mustard and maple syrup. Toss with chopped pecans and wild rice. For the rice, you can use a precooked wild rice blend or make your own. Then fill the roasted squash. Yummy!
One more step to add another layer of crunch and flavor: make a brown butter sage breadcrumb topping.
After baking, first covered then uncovered to brown, they are ready to be served for a perfect fall dinner.
In the end I found the kabocha worked as far as the taste I was looking for, pairing well with the salty sausage and tart but sweet cranberries. But I thought the texture was a bit starchier. Regardless of the squash you chose, this will have fall flavors jumping into your mouth with every bite!!
Sausage Stuffed Squash
2 acorn or kabocha squash
3 Tbs olive oil
10 oz. mild sausage
2 oz. kale, finely chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup wild and white rice blend, cooked
1 ½ Tbs butter
3 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut a small disk off the opposite side of the squash so that it can sit flat, cut side up. Drizzle the cavities with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Turn over and continue to bake for 15 minutes.
Make the filling by heating the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and crumble into the skillet, browning and cooking through. After 5 minutes, add the kale and continue to sauté for 3 minutes. Add the cranberries and white wine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to get the brown bits off the base of the pan.
Stir the chicken broth with the mustard and maple syrup then add to the sausage mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. Toss the sausage mixture with the pecans and rice and reserve.
To make the topping, melt butter in a small sauce pan or skillet. Add the sage and toast until the butter just begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Toss with the panko and ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Reserve.
Once the squash are done baking, reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F.
Assemble the squash by adding about one cup of mixture to each of the squash cavities. Then top with ¼ cup of the panko mixture. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 15 minutes.