This is a meal all in it's own natural container. I always get excited when visiting the farmer's market and come home laden with all sorts of various squash but no idea what to do with them, squash is not a native of England, so they're still a bit of a novelty for me. There's a little of everything here, vegetables, whole grains, (as I used wholewheat couscous) meat and a touch of sweet from the cherries and the maple syrup. I made the stuffing separately and then filled the squash before serving, I think you get a brisker, cleaner taste of all the flavors that way.
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Couscous, Leeks and Dried Cherries.
2 acorn squash, the tops sliced off and the insides scooped out.
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
For the stuffing.
1 cup of wholewheat couscous
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup of dried cherries
2-3 Italian sweet sausage, skinned and crumbled
3/4 cup of dry white wine
salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Slice the top off the squash and remove the insides. Slice a tiny piece off the bottom so the squash stands up straight.
Paint the outside and inside of the squash with canola oil. Add a tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of water to the inside of each squash. Wrap it loosely in aluminum foil. Place in an oven proof dish and pour 1/2 cup of water in the dish.
Cook for 1-1/2 hours depending on the size of your squash. It's vital that the squash is thoroughly cooked through and nice and soft. Chewy squash is not what we're after.
Meanwhile make the stuffing. Pour the olive oil into a large saute pan, add the onions and a sprinkling of salt. Cook on a low heat until just caramelizing.
Add the celery, sage and leeks and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. Remove from the pan.
Crumble the sausage into the pan and break up with a fork. Cook well until the sausage is browned. Add the vegetables back along with the white wine and cherries, turn up the heat and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Make the couscous - refer to the packet instructions. When cooked add to the sausage mixture and combine.
When the squash is thoroughly cooked, remove from the oven, carefully remove from the aluminum foil and place on a serving plate. Spoon the stuffing into the squash, topping with a sprig of sage and a drizzle of maple syrup.