Chicken and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Squash SquareThe spaghetti and butternut seem to get all the love when it comes to squashes, however, I believe the acorn squash is being highly underutilized when it comes to fall comfort cooking.  It’s almost like a sweet potato in flavor and texture and often becomes my replacement when I’m looking for a dinner side-dish that’s moderate in carbs. If you’re looking to keep it simple, all you need to do is slice it and roast it with just a little olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and grated parmesan and you’ve got a delicious side that you can eat like vegetable watermelon slices.

But that stuffed acorn squash though!  That’s where it’s at.  I made these a few days before the holiday, purposely making extra so I wouldn’t have to cook the night before Thanksgiving.  I’m telling you, the leftovers tasted better than the first night.  When it comes to cooking any sort of chili, filling or stuffing, the longer those flavors sit together, the better.

Squash rawAs a little Thanksgiving preview, I took some of those classic flavors and ingredients but gave them a little twist.  As always, you can choose whatever meat for the stuffing that you like.  Ground beef and pork sausage would be a stellar option, however, since I was trying to save my stomach for the big day, I opted for a leaner meat filling and topped it with a little shredded parmesan cheese and chopped turkey bacon. If you’re counting macros and trying to keep your fat grams in check you can make simple substitutions for the butter and cheese.  Because I used leaner meat choices, I wasn’t took concerned with using some butter for roasting the squash.  People tend to overuse things like olive oil and butter when roasting, but a little bit goes a long way.  You just need enough to coat your squash and you’ll be fine.

Just a note about timing:  The squash takes about 50 minutes to roast so you do need to plan ahead if making this recipe.  You can definitely save yourself some time by making the stuffing ahead of time though!  That way all you need to do is roast the squash, pack it with your pre-made filling and then bake for an additional 20 minutes or so.  Check out what you need below!

Chicken and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

2 Acorn Squashes

16 0z. Ground Chicken Thigh Meat

16. 0z. Ground Chicken Sausage

2 Egg Whites

1/2 Finely Chopped Yellow Onion

2 Finely Chopped Celery Stalks

1/2 Finely Chopped Fuji Apple

4 oz. Finely Chopped Brown Crimini Mushrooms (no stems)

1 Tbsp. Butter

4 Finely Chopped Garlic Cloves

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (Panko or Plain)

2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/2 tsp. Sage

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

2 oz. Shredded Parmesan Cheese

2 Slices Cooked and Chopped Turkey Bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and dry the outside of the acorn squashes, then cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and a little of the raw squash to create a nice pocket for the stuffing.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and then combine with the chopped garlic cloves.  Using a brush, coat the raw squash halves with a little of the butter and garlic mix, season with salt and pepper to taste and then place on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Cook for approximately 60 minutes, depending on the size of your squash.  A little less for a smaller squash.  After roasting, the squash should be tender to touch with a fork.

The stuffing can be prepared ahead of time or made while the squash is roasting.

In a large sauce pan, sauté the ground chicken and chicken sausage until cooked through.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Remove the meat mixture and transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan, add a little olive oil or non-stick spray of choice and sauté the chopped apples, celery and onion until soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the mushrooms last so they do not get overly done.  Once finished, add to the meat mixture bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, grated parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and sage and mix.

Once the meat and vegetables have cooled a bit, add the bread crumb mixture and stir.  Last, add the two egg whites to bind the ingredients together.

When the squash has finished roasting, scoop the stuffing mixture evenly between the halves (you may have extra stuffing).  Pile the stuffing mixture so that it creates a small mound.

Cook for an additional 15 minutes uncovered at 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes, pull the stuffed squash out, top each half with 1/2 oz. of shredded parmesan cheese and 1/2 a slice of chopped turkey bacon and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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