Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baked & Stuffed Acorn Squash

Winter squash abound at the grocery and farmer's market these days. They are delicious roasted in the oven and make an excellent side or main dish. They are considered a starchy vegetable but are much more glycemic-friendly than potatoes or rice, plus they are rich in beta-carotene, high in fiber and are a good source of other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, vitamins C & B and magnesium.

Acorn squash is typically green in color, but other colorful varieties are now available and worth sampling. Some others to look for are carnival, delicata (or sweet potato squash) and golden acorn. In this recipe, I used carnival squash which is a small, multi-colored member of the acorn family. The flesh is golden and mildly sweet when roasted. Because of it's colorful exterior and heart shape, it makes a spectacular presentation on the plate. The combination of smoky sausage, seasoned spinach and creamy fresh mozzarella is a wonderful and satisfying meal on a cold night. So, celebrate the late autumn harvest and eat a squash!

Baked & Stuffed Carnival Squash
(Makes 2 servings)

1 small carnival or acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sausage patty, cooked and chopped (meat or vegetarian)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ounce fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Cut squash in half. Scoop out and discard seeds. Drizzle olive oil onto baking sheet and place squash, cut side down, onto baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, place chopped spinach in small sauce pan and add about ½ cup water. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Drain any remaining water and season with salt and pepper. Add sausage and stir to combine.

3. When tender, remove squash from oven and turn over. Season each half with a little salt & pepper. Add cubed mozzarella to spinach mixture and stir. Divide spinach mixture equally and fill each squash cavity to overflowing. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon Parmesan over each portion and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 207 calories, 28.2 g carbohydrate, 4.7 g total fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 8.6 g fiber, 12.3 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

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