Shhhhh….Can you keep a secret? I have a girlfriend confession here… Ready!!! I have a huge crush on…wait for it…SQUASH. These gourds have got this girl spinning! Could it be love??? I mean, I think about their incredible taste and versatility all the time!!! The silky, buttery softness of acorn; the honey sweetness of butternut, and don’t even get me started on my diet-friendly “partner-in-crime” spaghetti squash. (31 calories per cup, people!)
It’s definitely love, for sure. I can’t live without squash. That may seem like an exaggeration, but every single week this sneaky vegetable makes its way into my grocery cart. I use shredded zucchini in so many recipes. It’s a great, very low-calorie filler that actually adds moisture to your recipe. This beauty is low in carbs and sugars, and high in potassium, manganese, vitamin C & A. Sunny yellow summer squash is full of antioxidants and is ever so yummy in my mother-in-law’s creamy casserole. Antioxidants, substances that help prevent the damaging effects of oxidation on cells throughout your body, are plentiful in many foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Because there are beneficial interactions between antioxidants and other components of foods, health authorities say that getting antioxidants from food may offer health benefits superior to those taken in supplement form. Oh, and my first ever published recipe was a mashed butternut squash with butter, honey, cream and herbs. Veggie comfort food at it’s finest.
One of my absolute favorite ways to make (and eat!) squash is by stuffing and roasting it. Acorn squash has the perfect shape for this. Cut in half, they make these awesome little cups that are just begging to filled with all kinds of yummy fare. The options really are endless and in many cases, unhealthy.
In creating this dish, I challenged myself to use ingredients that would be delicious, gluten-free and good for you. I just couldn’t take all the healthy goodness of acorn squash and ruin it by adding a ton of fat and carbs. But it still had to taste Ahh-Maz-ing! This dish actually sneaks in other veggies (does it get any better than that!) that take the place of the bread crumbs that you would find in a traditional stuffing.
We use chicken sausage instead of pork sausage to save even more calories and cut out some fat. I love cheese, who doesn’t??? So we finish our stuffed squash with a sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. We are so careful with all of our other ingredients, we can splurge here, and its sooooo worth it. By swapping out and tweaking our savory stuffing, this tasty dish is warm, delicious, melty goodness that’s actually good for you.
I bet you’ll have a crush on squash soon too!
4 large acorn squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
1-lb raw chicken sausage, casings removed
1 zucchini, shredded and drained of excess liquid
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 10oz bag of baby spinach
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp white cooking wine
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place cut side down in 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of water into baking dish. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender but not overcooked and mushy.
While squash is baking away, let’s prep this healthy, delicious stuffing. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When veggies are starting to soften, add the chicken sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon while cooking. When sausage is almost cooked, but still a little pink, add the shredded zucchini, spinach, red pepper flakes, and white wine. Cook for another 3 minutes or until sausage is completely cooked
Drain any water that remains in the baking dish holding the squash and turn the squash cut side up. Spoon the stuffing mixture into our beautiful squash cups. Sprinkle the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses on top of each masterpiece and bake, uncovered, for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Enjoy every savory, mouthwatering bite!
If you have a dairy allergy or prefer not to add the cheese, go right ahead. I promise, it will still be delicious.
Makes 4 servings
#acornsquash #stuffedacornsquash #glutenfree #dairyfree #easyweeknightdinners