If you're attending a potluck this Thanksgiving and have been assigned to bring a side, be sure to pick something that's classic yet breaks just enough from the norm, so you know there won't be repeated dishes on the table.
Why not spring for the always stress-free and elegant course known as stuffed squash? Keep it simple and fill the gourd with an Italian-inspired medley of sausage, garlic, peppers, and cheese. Alternately, add another layer of texture by simmering couscous, then fluffing it into a sweet-savory dressing of ground beef, onions, cranberries, and walnuts. For a Thanksgiving side — or everyday meal! — that's sophisticated yet straightforward, keep reading.
1 medium acorn squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1 Italian sausage link, casing removed
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place cut side down in a microwave-safe 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large skillet; add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Turn squash cut side up. Stuff with sausage mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
Nutrition Facts: 1 stuffed squash half equals 270 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 30 mg cholesterol, 762 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 13 g protein.
2 acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup couscous
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 pound ground beef, preferably lean chuck or sirloin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Trim the ends so each half will stand upright. Place both halves in a baking pan, flesh side up, and pour hot water into the pan to reach about halfway up the squash. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to the center of each squash and season with salt and pepper. Loosely cover the pan with foil. Bake the squash until tender when pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Prepare the couscous according to the package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Push the onion aside, add the meat, season with salt and pepper and cook through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, cranberries and couscous; season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the squash from the oven and, using a spatula, carefully transfer each half to a plate. Pour out any excess liquid from the centers. Divide the couscous among the squash.