what I’m loving this week: squash

Oh, fall — how I love thee. The scents, the sounds (hello, crunchy leaves covering sidewalks), the sights (fall colors are my favorite) and, last but not least, the tastes (too many to list). The season is truly a treat for all senses. And, while I would be hard-pressed to choose my favorite of all of fall’s offerings, as of late squash would likely top the list.

Nothing against its sister summer varieties, but there’s just something about winter squash that brings a sense of warmth and hominess. Walking into a kitchen where fall vegetables are roasting, including an ample amount of squash, is one of my favorite treats to the senses (ooooh, maybe I’m on to a new candle scent idea?!). 

Our household menu has been pretty squash heavy the last few weeks, from finally cooking a spaghetti squash that may have been in my possession before I met my fiance (which is another huge benefit to squash — they keep for SO long) to a delicious curry-inspired dish made with red kuri squash to an interesting Thanksgiving pie made of a peanut pumpkin (which had a mysterious melon flavor), our home has been a revolving door for nearly every variety of winter squash.

Our most recent purchase, which was not on our weekly grocery list but we couldn’t resist a good sale, was a pair of acorn squash. And, while I’ve cooked acorn squash before, I wanted to find a recipe that was a bit more robust than my typical treatment of roasting with salt, pepper and olive oil. We were also leaning toward something on the healthy side to offset our pigging out over the holiday weekend, as well as simple.

After scouring the web for about a total of two minutes (I’m impatient), I landed on what looked like a super yummy recipe from Epicurious that incorporated kale and turkey sausage (we ended up using chicken) and seemed relatively fast and easy.

Luckily, the dish turned out as expected — tasty and easy —  as confirmed by my fiance. I did make a few more minor modifications, such as an onion instead of a yellow onion as a substitute for the leek, and also had to go without the chicken broth since I accidentally omitted it from the shopping list. The dish will certainly stay in our recipe rotation and next time I’ll be sure to remember the broth, as I think it will enhance the filling flavor a bit. Also, I’ll be sure to actually measure the ingredients next time as the filling turned out a bit light in quantity. All in all, I highly recommend the recipe, details of which I’ve included below.

Be sure to let me know if you try it!

Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage

  • 2 medium acorn squash, halved down the middle, seeds removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (I used spicy chicken)
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced (I used a yellow onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups tightly packed torn kale
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs (I used regular breadcrumbs as we had them on-hand)

Heat oven to 375°. Cut a thin slice off round side of each squash half to create a stable base. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; coat with cooking spray. Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil; bake until golden and tender, 30 minutes. Remove from oven; flip squash and set aside. Heat broiler. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add sausage; cook, breaking into coarse pieces, until brown, 6 minutes; transfer to a bowl. In same skillet, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and leek; cook until leek is soft, 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook, 30 seconds. Add kale and toss; add broth. Cover and cook until kale is tender, 5 minutes; stir in sausage. Divide kale-sausage filling among squash. In a bowl, combine walnuts, Parmesan and panko; sprinkle evenly over squash bowls and coat with cooking spray. Broil until panko is golden, 2 minutes.

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