Monday, March 31, 2008

Sausage-Stuffed Squash

Winter squash is great - in the garden and in the kitchen. During the growing season, I just put the seeds in the ground, and then don't do anything until just before our first frost. Nothing will bother a squash plant here, except for squash bugs, and I've found that planting a big storage radish like the heirloom chinese Watermelon Radish in between the plants gives season-long protection plus a tasty treat in the fall (and into the winter) as well.

After cutting and curing the squash in the fall, I store them in a crate in the corner of my somewhat cool bedroom. My Pink Banana squash are still in fine shape, and will easily last until June. The remaining Butternuts will be used next, but right now I'm using up the last of the Carnival (or Festival) acorn-type winter squash. Following is one of our favorite winter squash recipes. It originally was supposed to be made in a pumpkin, served at the table by dishing out scoops of filling and squash flesh to all, and still could be made that way for a family by doubling the amount of the filling.

But I like to make individual servings by using smaller squash, like those in the acorn family. Those type of squash have a rounded stem end and a pointy blossom end containing most of the seed cavity. I've found there's more squash and they'll stand better if I knock the stem off and then cut off the blossom end to hollow them out for the filling. Use whatever you have though - you can even make squash canoes out of the Delicata types.

Sausage-Stuffed Squash (stuffing enough for 2-3 acorn-sized squash)

winter squash, any type, one end cut off and seeds removed
½ pound bulk sausage (I used a couple of hot Italian sausage links)
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 egg
1 6-oz carton of plain non-fat yogurt (original recipe called for sour cream)
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I grate the entire piece at one time, then store it in the freezer to use as needed)

Place squash cavity-side down in a baking pan with 1 inch of water, bake 375ยบ one hour or until tender. Meanwhile break up and fry sausage, then remove from pan and drain off grease. Saute veggies in same pan. When veggies are done, remove from heat, add cooked sausage. Mix egg and cheese into yogurt, then add to sausage/veggie mixture. When squash is tender, turn them cavity-side up in pan, fill with sausage mixture (can mound it up above the edge a bit) and pour in any extra yogurt liquid (if you have extra stuffing, place it in an oven-proof bowl and bake it too). Put stuffed squash back into oven for additional 25 minutes. When served, split open the squash and eat it with a spoon to scrape out every bit of the wonderful squash.

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