This easy, harvest-themed side dish has it all! Each golden squash half is filled to overflowing with sweet Italian sausage, fresh apple, kale, and tangy feta cheese. You’ll love the flavors and colors in this homespun recipe for Rustic Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash!
Easy Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of recipes out there for good old butternut squash. Next to pumpkin, I think it’s the Internet’s favorite winter veggie! But I also like to cook with acorn squash, which are smaller and in some ways a little easier to work with.
A typical acorn squash is perfect for cutting in half to get two good portion sizes. They’re delicious just roasted with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil… but let me tell you, once you stuff them with a colorful, sausage-filled stuffing, they become a thing of beauty. No lie.
I got this recipe from a sweet friend in New Mexico, and it has that perfect southwestern blend of savory and sweet flavors. The stuffing is a combination of Italian sausage, fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage, plus tender bits of celery and sweet apple. The stuffed squash are also topped with feta cheese crumbles and chopped nuts, for extra texture and flavor. With each acorn squash like a personal bowl, this dish is wholesome, delicious, and fun to eat!
With a list of ingredients including sausage, veggies, fruit, and plenty of savory seasonings, this recipe is just right for a Fall dinner or for a Thanksgiving side dish! In fact, if you serve stuffed acorn squash, you could skip making an additional batch of stuffing or dressing!
- Squash: This recipe makes two acorn squash, or four servings of half a squash each. You can easily double it if you need to feed a crowd!
- Italian Sausage: You can use bulk Italian sausage, or buy links and remove the casings. I use sweet Italian sausage, but spicy would also be fine.
- Kale: Clean and chop some fresh kale, or use frozen kale that you have thawed and drained well.
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin is good, or medium. You could also use avocado oil or vegetable oil.
- Onion: White, sweet, yellow, or red onion would all work just fine.
- Garlic: Freshly minced garlic has the brightest flavor, but garlic powder or garlic from a jar (“jarlic”) are both good in this recipe as well.
- Celery: Wash and chop up a couple of stalks of celery…
- Apple: And wash and chop up some apple. No need to remove the peel, unless that’s your preference. Any firm apple, sweet or tart, is fine.
- Herbs: Thyme, sage, and rosemary add the perfect harvest flavors. Freshly minced, or dried—whichever you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper
- Chopped Nuts: Pecans add a sweeter taste, but walnuts are also amazing here!
- Feta: A little bit of crumbled feta adds a melty, tangy element to this complex dish.
How to Make Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
The filling for the squash is easy to make. All you have to do is saute the ingredients in a large skillet! From there, you’ll fill each pre-roasted acorn squash half, and give them a little more oven time for the flavors to meld together.
make the Filling
- Roast the Acorn Squash. Preheat the oven to 400°F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so the squash halves won’t stick. Cut each squash in half (see “Tips for Success” below for safety instructions) and scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon or fork. Metal utensils are a little more effective than wood or plastic for scraping out the seeds and pulp. Turn the squash cut side down on the cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Cook the Sausage and Onions. While the squash is baking, saute the ground sausage in a large skillet on the stove, breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks. Once the sausage is fully cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl or plate. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the skillet, and cook the onions for a few minutes to soften.
- Cook the Remaining Filling Ingredients. To the softened onions, add the garlic, celery, apples, kale, and herbs, cooking for an additional 4 or 5 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend together and the ingredients to soften. Finally, return the cooked sausage back to the skillet, and give everything a good stir to combine.
Stuff and Bake the Squash.
- Prepare the Roasted Squash Halves. Remove the cooked squash halves from the oven, and use a spoon to scoop some of the flesh away from the rind, leaving each squash half like an empty bowl with just a thin layer of squash inside. Chop the squash you scooped out, and add it to the filling in the skillet. Taste the filling for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Stuff the Squash and Bake. Fill each squash until heaping full. Bake for 15 more minutes.
- Top with Feta and Nuts. Take the stuffed squash out of the oven, and sprinkle each half with feta cheese and chopped nuts. Bake 5 minutes more.
- Enjoy! Serve the squash hot.
Tips for Success
When making Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash, it’s good to keep these handy tips in mind. Each easy tip will help ensure that the dish turns out just right. Read on, and happy cooking!
- Safety Instructions: Be very careful when cutting the uncooked squash in half. This is the safest way I’ve found. Using a cutting board and large, sharp knife, cut the stem off the top of the acorn squash. Use a sawing motion to start cutting, and curl the fingers of your holding hand like a claw, so they don’t accidentally extend under the knife blade. Once the stem is removed, turn the squash upside down and balance it on the flat surface where the stem was removed. Cut the squash in half, starting with a sawing motion again. You may find that it’s difficult to cut through the squash about halfway down. If so, carefully angle the point of the knife downward, and push on the handle to slowly force it through.
- Vegetarian Option: For a meatless stuffed squash, you can add quinoa, rice, or other grains in place of the squash. Cooked chickpeas are also good, as are mushrooms. You may want to increase the amount of salt, and add a splash of soy sauce or coconut aminos for a bit of umami flavor.
- Apple Options: Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Lady Alice, and Pink Lady are all good options that are firm and very flavorful. Use any firm, flavorful apple that you like. I only use half an apple in mine, but you could use the whole apple for a slighly sweeter stuffing.
Since this is such an appropriate recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I like to serve it with holiday-style dishes (even if I’m just making it on a random weeknight!). Here are some of our favorite, easy, holiday recipes:
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes: These Instant Pot Mashed Maple Sweet Potatoes are so good, you could practically eat them for dessert! Real maple syrup and crunchy chopped nuts turn these simple veggies into a masterpiece.
- Ham: Skip the turkey and go straight for the ham! It’s easy, moist, and full of flavor, especially when you make it in your slow cooker! Crockpot Ham for the win!
- Broccoli Salad: Easy Broccoli Salad with Bacon is a must-have for any holiday meal! It’s creamy, crunchy, a little sour, and a little sweet. Plus, it’s got bacon. So yeah, basically the perfect dish!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
To store your leftover stuffed squash, just pop the squash halves into airtight food storage containers. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To reheat, bake the squash again at 350°F until hot all the way through, or just microwave them for a minute or two until they’re piping hot with no cold spots (watch out for hot spots though!).
Can I Freeze Stuffed Squash?
I don’t recommend freezing the actual squash, but you can make the filling ahead and freeze that. It will keep frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight, and you’re all set to roast some squash and fill them up!
- 2 acorn squash
- ½ pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large onion, diced
- 3 cups kale, cleaned and chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- ½ large apple, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh minced thyme
- 2 sage leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons walnuts or pecans
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the squash in half (see safety instructions) and scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon or fork.
- Turn the squash cut side down on the cookie sheet, and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fork tender.
- While the squash is baking, saute the ground sausage in a large skillet on the stove, breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks. Once the sausage is fully cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until softened, 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add the kale, garlic, celery, apples, and herbs, cooking for an additional 4 or 5 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld together. Add the sausage back to the skillet, and stir to combine.
- Remove the cooked squash from the oven, and use a spoon to scoop some of the flesh away from the rind. Chop the flesh and add it to the filling on the stove. Taste the filling for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Fill each squash until heaping full. Place the filled squash back into the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
- Take the squash out of the oven, and sprinkle each half with feta cheese and chopped nuts. Bake 5 minutes more. Serve hot.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 412Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 1167mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 18g
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More Fall + Holiday Favorite Recipes:
- Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Truffles
- Easy Bisquick Sausage Balls
- Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Cranberry Relish
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Air Fryer Ham
- Crockpot Turkey Breast
- Best Homemade Stuffing
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