Fall Bounty: Winter squash season

The rich, buttery flavors of winter squash are hard to resist!  Deep orange squash such as acorn and butternut are loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A and Fiber, and can be used in a variety of recipes. 

Selection

·         Feel heavy for its size

·         Free of damage, wrinkles, blemishes, soft spots

·         Should have 1" of stem intact (to prevent drying)

·         Butternut squash:  Even, creamy orange skin, little or no green streaks

·         Acorn squash: Deep green skin with an "orange patch" (indicates ripeness), minimal blemishes.

·         Excellent for baking; butternut is also great for mashing

·         Roast cut side down, 400°F, 40-45 minutes.  Season with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of butter if desired.

 

Storage

·         Cool dry pantry up to 2 months

·         Refrigerate cut squash up to 4 days

·         Freeze cooked squash removed from skin

 

Nutrition:  Winter squash is a nutrient dense super food.  Good source of fiber, potassium and several B vitamins. 

 

Health Benefits: Excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants.  Carotenoids have both protective and anti-inflammatory effects, helping reduce risk for chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease.

 

Sausage, Apple, and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 cup cooked brown/wild rice blend (such as microwavable Uncle Ben's or Minute Rice)

1 pkg. (12 oz.) Meijer Chicken Sausage Links (Roasted Garlic and Asiago flavor), diced

2 acorn squash, halved through the middle and seeded

1/2 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 large Michigan Gala, Jonagold, Honeycrisp or other semi-tart apples, peeled, cored and diced

1/4 cup Meijer dried cranberries

2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tsp. pure maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 tsp. McCormick ground cinnamon 

1/4 tsp. McCormick ground cloves

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle the squash halves with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet and tightly cover with a second piece of aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, until tender. (Alternately, microwave squash on high 12-14 minutes, until tender, rotating every 4-5 minutes)

2. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and brown onions and apples, cooking until crisp tender.  Add diced sausage and heat through. Stir in the cranberries, pecans, and thyme.

3. In a large bowl, toss to combine the cooked rice and sausage mixtures.

4. In a small bowl mix orange juice and maple syrup. Pour over the rice and sausage mixture and toss to incorporate.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, cinnamon, and cloves and mix well.

5. Once the squash have cooked, turn them over on the baking sheet. Fill each squash with 1/4 of the filling. Return to the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes to lightly brown. Serve immediately.

 

 

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