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, Portobello mushrooms, sweet apples, and crunchy walnuts rounds out the flavor. Enjoy as a satisfying main course!
Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 70-80 minutes / Serves: 4
Non-stick cooking spray 2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ red onion, chopped
1½ c. baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 lb. spicy bulk Italian sausage *
2 T. fresh sage leaves, julienned
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks 2 t. ground cinnamon
4 oz. walnuts, chopped
3 T. cold butter, cut into small chunks
2 T. brown sugar (optional)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
* For less heat, use ½ pound spicy and ½ pound mild Italian sausage.
1. Place top oven rack in the center position and pre-heat oven to 375°F.
2. 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.
3. Place both dishes in pre-heated oven. 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).
4. While the squash is baking, add remaining olive oil, garlic, and onion to a large skillet set over medium heat. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to develop some color, approximately 4-5 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they develop some color and start to release their liquid, approximately 4-5 minutes.
6. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until it is mostly brown, approximately 6-8 minutes. Break the sausage apart with a spatula or wooden spoon while it cooks.
7. Add fresh sage, chopped apples, and cinnamon. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until apples soften, stirring occasionally.
8. Remove from heat and drain excess liquid from skillet, if necessary. Stir in chopped walnuts and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Stir to combine and set aside.
9. When ready, remove squash from oven and cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
10. Transfer the squash, one at a time, to 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 a baking dish.
11. Cut the cooked squash into bite-sized chunks and add to apple-sausage mixture. Gently fold together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
12. Spoon apple-sausage mixture into empty squash shells and top each with chunks of butter, brown sugar, if using, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
13. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is warmed through and nicely browned. Remove from oven and top with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, if desired, before serving.
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