Stuffed Winter Squash

I do love squash, doesn’t matter to me what kind, color, shape, etc., it’s all delicious. My mother used to cut acorn squash in half and fill the halves with butter and maple syrup and bake them, so good! It never occurred to me to stuff winter squash but here’s a recipe that’s succulent and almost sinfully good. It doesn’t hurt that it’s extremely easy to make either! Use whatever kind of winter squash you like (I used acorns and the recipe would have stuffed 3 or 4 (so 6-8 halves).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve and seed squash, the number will depend on what kind you use and how big a hole will need filling. Rub the inside of the squash with:

1 tablespoon olive oil (2 if you have more than 4 halves)

Place each half, meat side down, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 40-60 minutes or until fork tender.

While the squash bakes prepare the stuffing. In a 12″ skillet, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

6-8 ounces chopped shitake mushrooms

1 bunch scallions (8-10), sliced (put 1/4 cup aside for garnish)

Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add:

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (mild or hot depending on your family’s taste)

Cook, crumbling the meat as it cooks, until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add:

1 1/2-2 cups cooked quinoa, again depending on how much stuffing you need for your squash halves (I used a bag of frozen cooked quinoa from Whole Foods)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the quinoa is heated through and the garlic tender, about 3 minutes. Keep warm until the squash is cooked.

When the squash is tender, remove from oven, turn meat side up and fill the cavity with the stuffing. Garnish with reserved scallion greens and:

2-4 tablespoons (depending on how many halves you have) date syrup (honey or maple syrup).

Serve immediately.

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