"You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else."
Most great recipes come from our mothers, don't they? Well, this one came from my mom's house, anyway. I jotted it down along with a few others when I raided her magazines. There is a really easy stuffed zucchini recipe that I grew up on (and love!) and it is posted on this blog. I make it at least a half dozen times a year. In that sense, mom set the stage for my love of sausage-stuffed squashy things.
In this version, from Taste of Home magazine, the stuffing is loaded with vegetables and is bound by an easy, yet surprisingly elegant-tasting sauce. I tweaked a few things, including the cooking time. The recipe called to be baked 30 minutes, but from the get-go I knew that would not be enough to cook the squash, so I planned to cook it an hour, withholding the application of cheese until 20" before the end, so it wouldn't brown. Sure enough, at 30 minutes, the squash was still quite hard. Another 20 or 30 minutes did the trick and it became tender enough to scoop out of the skin and enjoy....because acorn squash is way too good to simply be a vessel for stuffing! This was really delicious and crave-worthy. I loved the croutons in it. A nice twist away from traditional bread crumbs. Easy and inexpensive enough for every day, yet good enough for company. But if you want to make it, you'll have to act fast, because (at least in CT) acorn squash is only seasonally available!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Adapted from a recipe in Taste of Home magazine
2 fresh medium acorn squash, cut in half
1 pound uncooked bulk sausage (I used Jones's)
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used baby Portabellas)
1 onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Ceasar croutons
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After cutting acorn squash in half (lengthwise), scoop out the seeds and pulp, then slice a bit off the rounded side to create a flat "bottom" so it won't wobble. Place each half on a cookie sheet. Season squash with a little salt and pepper.
In a large skillet on medium-high, cook crumbled bulk sausage, mushrooms, onion, celery and garlic together.
After the sausage is brown and the vegetables softened, add wine, mushroom soup, croutons, Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Spoon into acorn "cups" and pile extra stuffing on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Place back in oven and bake an additional 20 minutes, until cheese is melted well and you are able to pierce squash easily with a knife. Serve immediately.