I cannot stop craving rich, cold-weather foods. It’s hard to believe that two months ago I couldn’t get enough corn and tomatoes and now my mind is on comforting foods suitable for chilly evenings and holiday entertaining.
Just like I thought I would never tire of summer tomatoes, I can’t see how my taste buds could grow weary of winter squash. My latest infatuation is with the sweet flavor and hearty texture of kabocha squash, and when I saw these personal-sized beauties at the market I knew I wanted to bring them home and stuff them.
But with what? I wanted to match kabocha’s big flavor, so I opted for salty, spiced sausage, creamy ricotta and earthy, herbaceous sage. Add in red onion for color and aromatic depth, and I had a five-ingredient dinner we demolished. We couldn’t stop thinking about it so I made it again later in the week, and again the following weekend for company. When that happens, I know it’s time to record the recipe, so next year when the peach harvest wanes I’ll have this dish to turn to.
Sausage-stuffed winter squash
- 3 small kabocha squash (or other small winter squash, like acorn or delicata)
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half (from stem to bottom) and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulp. Cut a thin slice of the skin side off so the squash can sit cut side up evenly. Rub the cut side with a little olive oil then place cut down on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for two minutes, then break the sausage into pieces and add it to the onion. Cook, stirring sparingly, until the sausage is browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sage.
- When the squash are cooked, gently stir the ricotta into the sausage, so that large chunks remain. Turn the squash cut side up and fill with the sausage mixture. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Serve warm.