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Stuffed Maple Acorn Squash with Sausage and Shitakes

Fancy enough for a holiday dinner party, simple enough for a weeknight meal!

Stuffed Maple Acorn Squash with Sausage and Shitakes

Dinner is made super easy with this one-dish meal, packed with vegetables, protein, and tons of seasonal flavor. Use prepared or leftover stuffing to make your life a little easier, and sausage to stuff the acorn squash brushed with maple syrup. Sliced shitakes and dried herbs add a savory accent. Perfect for fall, but equally good for any chilly winter supper!

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; pastry brush; small sauté pan; wooden spoon; spoon; sheet pan or baking dish

Ingredients: 2 cups prepared Stovetop Stuffing (Traditional Herb or Cornbread) 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided ½ cup sausage meat, removed from the casing 6 medium shitake mushrooms, sliced 1 small onion, diced 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon dried sage 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded with stringy flesh removed 2 tablespoons maple syrup kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

ILOC tip: reserve the acorn squash seeds, toast them as you would pumpkin seeds, and serve them with a side salad.

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Place the prepared stuffing in a mixing bowl and set aside.

2. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sausage, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and coarsely chop, if necessary. Place in the bowl with the stuffing.

3. Add the onions to the sauté pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender and golden. Remove and add to the bowl with the stuffing and sausage.

4. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and sliced mushrooms to the sauté pan, and cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and add to the stuffing-sausage-onion mixture.

5. Combine the stuffing, sausage, onions and mushrooms, then add the thyme and sage. Toss well to coat.

6. Place the four acorn squash halves on a sheet pan, and season the four cavities with salt and pepper, then brush with maple syrup. If the squash halves do not stand steadily, then cut a small portion of the bottom off to make an even surface area. Evenly distribute each cavity with the stuffing. Pour ½ cup water into the sheet pan or baking dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife.

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