All of a sudden the leaves have turned. Just a week and a half ago Vermont was all green and I was wearing flip flops. Now my backyard glows yellow as the morning sun shines through the trees, and electric reds and oranges punctuate the woods around me. Definitely my favorite time of year.
The crisp chill in the air is energizing – so energizing in fact that I was moved to plant 200 tulip bulbs yesterday, and my back is ticked off at me today for the effort. I planted a combination of early and late blooming, single and double tulips. A ton of work but definitely worth it when I think about the big mass of colorful tulips I’ll see in the spring, unless of course the squirrels get them first.
Down to cooking. This crisp weather puts me in the mood to cook something warm and toasty. Here’s another all-local recipe I’m making as part of the Slow Food Eat-Local Challenge. Sausage and Chèvre Stuffed Acorn Squash is perfect for a Thanksgiving table or a simple weeknight dinner. It’s easy to put together, can be prepared in advance, and all the stuffing is made in one pan. (toasted pecans would be really good in this stuffing, but in the interest of sticking to my eat-local challenge for the next two weeks, I will save those for another day.)
Acorn squash are simply made for stuffing. They make a perfect, single-size, edible bowl that can be filled with any number of good things. My version starts with pork sausage made from local pork, rustic whole grain bread for stuffing, and is punched up with sweet and tangy Vermont maple Chèvre. If you can’t find maple Chèvre, simply mash a little maple syrup into some softened Chèvre and fold it into the stuffing or crumble on top. I used a little Shelburne Vineyard Vermont Grown Riesling in this dish…leaving plenty to drink WITH it. Check out links for the local sources I used at the bottom of the post.
- 1 acorn squash
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- ½ pound pork sausage
- 1 small apple, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup Vermont Riesling
- 2 cups rustic, whole grain bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons Maple Chèvre
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Slice a little bit off each end of the acorn squash so that it will sit flat on the pan without rolling around. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash on a sheet pan, cut side up. Using a pastry brush, coat the squash halves with 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, but still maintains it’s shape.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt remaining butter. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the kale and sauté until wilted and tender.
- Crumble the sausage into the sauté pan and cook until just beginning to brown. Add the apples, sage and thyme and sauté. Add the Riesling and deglaze the pan, then add the bread cubes and toss, cooking the stuffing for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the squash halves with the filling, mounding it up into a dome. Crumble the maple chèvre on top and drizzle with remaining maple syrup. Roast the stuffed squash halves on a baking sheet for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the bread on top is crisp and the cheese is golden.
- (if you want to prepare this ahead of time, cool all ingredients and stuff the squash halves, and then cover well and refrigerate until ready to roast)
Here are links to the local sources I used for this recipe-