The countdown to Thanksgiving is on! You know what that means? I am already looking for alternative dinner options to turkey. You see, I don’t LOVE turkey. I don’t hate it either. I’ll enjoy a turkey sandwich from the deli and I make a lot of things with ground turkey but roasted turkey? I eat it once a year and then force myself to find ways to use up the leftovers. So today I am giving you the perfect dinner option.
Acorn squash is possibly my favorite of the winter squashes. It’s like butternut squash’s short, little cousin. Acorn squash is slightly sweet, gets a warm, almost caramel-like flavor when roasted and pairs fantastically with sweet and savory items. Plus, unlike butternut squash, it’s the perfect size and shape for stuffing!
Since we are deep in Thanksgiving prep and the idea of Turkey BEFORE Thanksgiving is just not in my mind, this is the perfect easy weeknight dinner. Roasting the squash does take a little time BUT aside from browning the sausage, this recipe is pretty hands off.
The spicy italian sausage pairs perfectly with the sweet squash (and before you ask, yes you can subsitute sweet italian sausage but I promise you, the sweet and spicy balance is EVERYTHING.)
Plus, is there anything better than parmesan and panko mixed together? The super crispy and salty combination is total texture overload and the melted butter makes it turn the perfect golden color. It’s so good together I want to make a cracker flavor out of it so I can snack on it all the time!
So, go make this recipe this week or next week or the week after when you are totally sick of turkey and let me know what you think!
Italian Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound hot italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 425*
While oven is preheating, slice acorn squash in half crosswise, and scoop out seeds. Brush with one tablespoon of olive oil and roast squash halves cut side down for 30-40 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
While squash is roasting, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and Italian sausage and cook until it’s cooked through, breaking it apart into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon. Once sausage is fully cooked, add in cinnamon and sage and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Then turn the heat off and stir in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder and parsley. Then stir in the melted butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Once squash is fork tender, remove from oven and turn up the heat to 500* Stuff squash halves with sausage mixture and then top with the Parmesan and panko crumbs. Bake or broil for 3-4 minutes or until the topping turns golden brown. Serve hot.
This recipe will keep for at least 3 days in the refrigerator in an air tight container. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until squash and sausage are heated through. Remove foil and bake uncovered for the last 5 minutes of heating time. For a super crispy topping, you can also broil the squash for 1-2 minutes after heating.
The dried parsley adds nice color to the breadcrumb topping but since it's such a small amount, you can omit if you do not have any on hand.