I remember the first time I ate this dish. I was having a bit of a mid-life crisis (an early one, mind you) and had taken a leave of absence from my job. Actually, it was a leave of absence from a lot of things, but that’s a story better told in person over a cup of tea. I had time off, so I went to visit my parents. One particularly lazy day, Mom and I planted ourselves in front of the television and watched a marathon of Food Network shows. One of the last ones we saw was Emeril Live and when he stuffed Italian sausage and pasta into acorn squash, we both started drooling. The next morning, shortly after we got up, we were at the store looking for ingredients. (I think Mom and I both had sausage and squash dreams overnight.) We made the recipe for dinner and it was a huge hit. I’ve cooked it many times since, but the first time was the most fun because I was with Mom.
This dish is amazingly versatile. I changed Emeril’s original recipe a bit by using turkey Italian sausage, whole-grain pasta and part-skim mozzarella cheese. You can leave out the meat, use a different pasta sauce and/or change the shape of the pasta each time you make it. You can make your own sauce or use your favorite from a jar. You can pick a different cheese. It’s extremely easy to make this dish your own.
This recipe takes some time and messes up a few pots, but it’s pretty easy to prepare. Serve it for a special occasion or at a dinner party. You can stuff the squash halves ahead of time, cover and refrigerate, then put it in the oven after your guests arrive. If you go this route and the squash is cold when you start, add some extra baking time.
This dish is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Iron. It’s just above the amount of carbs I like to consume in a meal (60 g or less), but note that there is a whopping 15g of fiber. That makes the “net carbs” within my range (total carbs – half fiber = 62 – 7.5 = 54.5g). If this is still too many carbs for your meal plan, increase the amount of sausage slightly and decrease the amount of pasta.
Make It Vegetarian: Leave out the sausage and use a meatless sauce.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
2 oz whole-grain pasta such as rotini, rigatoni, etc., uncooked
2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and strings removed
freshly ground black pepper
½ lb turkey Italian sausage (hot or sweet), casing removed, crumbled
½ cup onion, chopped
1½ cups pasta sauce
¼ lb part-skim mozzarella, cut into cubes
½ Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place squash halves in 13- x 9-inch baking dishes, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add about a cup of water to each dish and then cover with foil. Bake until the squash is tender, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool, leaving the squash in the baking dishes.
In a medium skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until sausage has browned. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven again to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine sausage and onion mixture, pasta sauce, pasta and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the pasta mixture into each squash half. If all of the water has evaporated, add more to the bottom of each dish. Bake until everything is heated through and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 457 calories, 16g fat (4g sat), 50mg cholesterol, 877mg sodium, 62g carb, 15g fiber, 12g sugar, 21g protein
I have just joined the #love bloghop group. Each month this group picks a topic to #love and each blogger in the group posts about that topic. This month it’s #squashlove. Check out some of the other posts in this series below.