Apple and Sausage-Stuffed Butternut Squash
Unlike many stuffed winter squash recipes, this one is more savory than sweet thanks to the spicy sausage and fresh sage. The combination of sausage, meaty Portobello mushrooms, sweet apples and crunchy walnuts rounds out the flavor of this satisfying main course.
Variations: For less heat, use ½ pound spicy and ½ pound mild Italian sausage. If you prefer a sweeter dish, simply add more brown sugar prior to baking.
2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed 2 T. olive oil
1 lb. spicy Italian pork sausage
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ red onion, chopped
1 ½ cup baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 T. fresh sage leaves, julienned
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks 2 t. ground cinnamon
4 oz. chopped walnuts
3 T. cold butter, cut into small chunks
2 T. brown sugar (optional)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional) salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray two 13 x 9” glass baking dishes with non-stick cooking spray. Place butternut squash halves in glass dishes, cut side up. Brush exposed edges lightly with olive oil.
Place both dishes in oven on middle rack at 375 degrees. Bake until soft enough to scoop out interior with a spoon, approximately 45 – 50 minutes. (Actual baking time will vary depending on individual oven temperature, size of squash and how ripe it is).
While the squash are baking, add sausage to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. While the sausage is cooking, break it into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon.
After sausage is mostly browned, add garlic, red onion and chopped mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionally.
Add fresh sage, chopped apples, and cinnamon to pan. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until apples become soft, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and if necessary, drain excess liquid from skillet. Stir in chopped walnuts and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready, remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Remove squash one at a time from hot glass baking dish and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, trace a ½” inch border around the perimeter of each squash. Scoop out all of the squash inside the border and reserve the cooked flesh in a large bowl. Be careful not to puncture the exterior of the squash skin during this process.
When finished, return each empty squash shell to the baking dish.
Cut the cooked squash into bite-sized chunks and add to sausage mixture. Gently fold mixture together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Spoon sausage mixture into empty squash cavities and top each with chunks of butter, brown sugar (if desired) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Place in 350-degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is nicely browned. Remove from oven and top with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately while hot.