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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Fall!

Today is the first day of September, which in my brain means it is fall.  Yes, I know, I know.  Fall starts officially on September 21st.  But, as most people who know me know, following rules is not exactly my forte.  In my mind winter is December through February, spring March through May, summer June through August, and fall September through November.  So, yes.  It's fall.  Never mind the fact that it's 90 degrees here in PA this week.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not quite ready to admit that summer is coming to an end yet and my garden is still in full swing, but I am looking forward to the days of crisp weather, turning leaves, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and wearing hoodies.  For now, I guess I'll just have to settle for getting into the spirit of the season through my kitchen.

With the increased awareness lately of GMO's and the pitfalls of factory farming, my husband and I have made the choice to keep most of our produce selections locally sourced (and sometimes so local, that it comes from our own back yard!).  The result is eating things that are fresh and in season.  Sure, that means no fresh strawberries in February, but those usually taste like exactly nothing anyway. Of course, there are things I absolutely cannot live without that are never in season here like bananas, avocados, pineapples, mangoes, etc. But for the most part, I try to eat as locally as I can.  This results in a weekly trip to my favorite farmer's market ever and obscene amounts of fresh produce in my kitchen.  My market does differentiate between homegrown, locally grown, and shipped in, which is nice.  Not all of them do that, so be aware - just because it is at a farmer's market does not mean that it is grown locally.  Don't be afraid to ask where your food comes from!!  Any market worth its salt will be more than happy to share.  But, it seems I've gotten off track here.....

So what does my farmer's market rant have to do with anything?  Why, acorn squash of course!!  My market has the most beautiful array of squash right now, and so reasonably priced ($0.65/lb!!).  And I have yet to meet a squash I don't like.  So I happily picked out spaghetti squashes and acorn squashes and brought them home to add to my produce collection.  The nice thing about squash is that they keep FOREVER!!  So I stared at them for about a week looking so cute in my hang-y produce basket and contemplated what I should do with them exactly.  And then, I came up with this:

Acorn Squash stuffed with Sausage, Quinoa, and Apples
3 Acorn squashes
1 lb Loose hot Italian sausage
2 c Cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa, but it doesn't matter what kind you use)
Vegetable stock
2 T Olive oil
1/2 White onion, diced
2 Apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tsp Fresh rosemary
1 tsp Fresh parsley
1 tsp Fresh thyme
Shredded cheddar cheese
chopped walnuts

Tools needed:
Just the basics

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut acorn squash in half vertically.

Mmmmmm....squashy goodness!

Scoop out the seeds and trim just a smidge off the back so that it will lay flat on the tray.

All clean!

You're literally just shaving a little off the bump.
Just enough so that it won't wobble while baking.

If you feel so inclined, save the seeds!  You can clean them, dry them, and bake them just like pumpkin seeds.  (Yum!)  Place cleaned squash on baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. You can test done-ness with a fork.  If the fork pierces the squash meat with little to no resistance, you're ready to rock!

Even this looks amazing!
While your squash is in the oven, cook your quinoa according to directions on the box, substituting vegetable stock for water (unless you have cooked quinoa hanging out in your fridge, in which case just grab it.  But, seriously, who does that?).  While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the apple, onion, rosemary, parsley, and thyme.  Saute until onions are soft. The apples will all but disintegrate, but that's OK.  We really just want the apples to add a sweetness to the dish.  

Once the onions are soft, add the sausage to the pan and cook while breaking it up. (Think: browning ground beef for sauce or chili).  Once the sausage is done, remove from heat and stir in the cooked quinoa.
Yummy filling, ready to be added to the squash
 You'll probably notice I did not add salt to this dish.  The reason for that is that the sausage is salty enough that I really didn't think it was needed.  But, of course, if your sausage doesn't add the desired amount of saltiness, feel free to add.  Remember - cooking is way more forgiving than baking!  You can tweak a recipe any way you see fit.  
See?  Extra.

Now spoon the sausage mixture into the cooked acorn squash.  You'll notice in my pictures, I only made two squashes, but ended up with extra filling (enough for one more squash, hence the instructions to do 3).
 Top with shredded cheddar cheese and sprinkle with walnuts.  Put back in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, until cheese is melted.  

And that's it!
So pretty!  This just screams "FALL!"
 This is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.  My hubby actually made me a little nervous when he tried it.  He took his first bite and just looked at me.  I thought he hated it...then his eyes damn near rolled back in his head while he exclaimed "this is so GOOD!".  As I was eating mine, I was surprised at how with every bite I took, I loved it a little more each time.  This one is definitely on the "do it again" list! 


  1. Which market? I love me some acorn squash. I rarely move past just roasting them with butter and brown sugar

    1. Oak Grove Farms out in Mechanicsburg. My favorite place EVER!! I also love them roasted with butter and brown sugar. But I wanted to actually make a meal out of them, so this happened. :)

    2. Ah... yes I love Oak Grove too :) we live close to Strite's Orchard and it's time for apples!

    3. I got another GIANT basket of apple seconds at Oak Grove yesterday. Still debating whether it's going to be butter or sauce. Strite;s is nice, too. I've done pick your own cherries there.